Man Utd beat Sunderland 2-1

Paul Scholes scored a last minute winner at Old Trafford on Saturday to give Manchester United a 2-1 victory over struggling Sunderland.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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Paul Scholes scored a last minute winner at Old Trafford on Saturday to give Manchester United a 2-1 victory over struggling Sunderland. A brilliant performance by Jurgen Macho in the Sunderland couldn't prevent Sir Alex Ferguson's team from moving into second place in the English Premier League and maintaining the pressure on leaders Arsenal. Juan Sebastian Veron put through his own net after five minutes to give Howard Wilkinson's side a shock lead, but David Beckham equalised nine minutes from time before Scholes headed home the dramatic winner. Manchester United entered 2003 in third place in the English Premier League, five points behind the leaders Arsenal. To maintain the pressure on the champions, Sir Alex Ferguson, who named an unchanged line-up, needed his side to beat struggling Sunderland, who are third from bottom with 18 points from 21 games. Howard Wilkinson, whose side hadn't won at Old Trafford since 1968, saw his side take a fifth minute lead in fortunate circumstances. Paul Thirlwell floated over a free kick which Fabien Barthez should have claimed. Instead the Frenchman only fumbled and Gavin McCann immediately lobbed back into the box. The ball looped off Roy Keane's thigh and Juan Sebastian Veron could only head into his own net when trying to head over. United responded with typical ferocity. Paul Scholes couldn't believe his luck when his shot struck one post, then rolled along the line and hit the other before Jurgen Macho gladly collected the rebound. Sunderland's Austrian goalkeeper was in for a busy afternoon. He dived at full stretch to save a trademark David Beckham free kick from 22 metres. The pattern of the first half was maintained the second as United dominated and Sunderland defended. Veron, looking to make amends, tried a swerving, dipping shot from distance, but Macho, off his line, recovered sufficiently to tip the ball over the bar. Nine minutes from the end, United got the goal their play deserved and Macho was beaten at last. His long clearance was hit upfield by Rio Ferdinand and Beckham timed his run to perfection to give his side hope of salvaging more than a draw. With just minutes to go Macho pulled off yet another top class save, this time from Diego Forlan and it seemed his heroics would earn Sunderland a point. But United had other ideas and when Veron floated a cross to the far post in stoppage time, Mikael Silvestre headed the ball into the danger area and Paul Scholes stormed through to head home the winner. It was a winning start to the year for Sir Alex Ferguson, but his opposite number Howard Wilkinson's team faces a long battle to stave off relegation. (AP)