SUNDERLAND ended their Premier League campaign with defeat, but it was not enough to earn victors Manchester United the title.
Wayne Rooney’s winner at the Stadium of Light looked to have been enough for United to seal an unlikely title success on the final day, but Manchester City’s late comeback made the result on Wearside irrelevant.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men were well worth the three points, as Sunderland only produced in fits and starts, with the Black Cats finishing the campaign in 13th spot after ending the season with an eight-game winless run.
United broke the deadlock in the 20th minute after Phil Jones swept in the ball from the right after a patient build-up from the visitors.
Rooney took advantage of the static Black Cats defence to direct the ball into the far corner with a stooping header from six yards out.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side dominated the exchanges that followed and almost doubled their advantage in the 28th minute after David Vaughan conceded possession horribly to Ashley Young just inside the Sunderland area.
Young fed it to Ryan Giggs whose first-time shot from 18 yards was beaten away by Simon Mignolet.
Moments later, only the woodwork spared Sunderland as Rooney’s free-kick from 18 yards crashed against the top of the bar.
Another chance arrived for the visitors in the 34th minute after Giggs lifted the ball down the right flank and Antonio Valencia sped past John O’Shea.
Valencia pulled the ball back into the path of Young who scuffed his shot from 15 yards out, with Rooney unable to get sufficient contact to divert it into the net.
But Sunderland should have been level in the 35th minute after Stephane Sessegnon chipped the ball over the United backline and Fraizer Campbell was unable to direct his volley, sending it high and wide from eight yards out.
Sunderland had Mignolet to thank again two minutes into the second half after the Belgian beat away Rooney’s shot from point-blank range after the England striker was fed with an inch-perfect through-ball from Young.
United showed a few signs of nerves at the back, but still looked a threat going forward and came desperately close to sealing victory in the 75th minute.
Scholes’ half-volley from the edge of the area crashed back off the post and Giggs pounced on the rebound to drive the ball at goal, only for Mignolet to spectacularly tip it over the top.
But United held their nerve, only for news to filter through after the final whistle that City had grabbed a late winner.
SUNDERLAND: Mignolet, O’Shea (Elmohamady 43), Bramble, Turner, Bardsley (Bridge 62), Gardner, Vaughan (Wickham 74), Colback, McClean, Sessegnon, Campbell. Subs not used: Westwood, Meyler, Ji, Kyrgiakos. Booked: Campbell (23), Bardsley (31), Turner (67) MAN UNITED: De Gea, Jones, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Scholes, Carrick, Giggs, Young (Nani 82), Rooney. Subs not used: Amos, Owen, Berbatov, Park, Hernandez, Rafael. Booked: Jones (37), Giggs (56), Scholes (71)