SUNDERLAND went down to the defeat which has become almost traditional in this fixture over the years but could count themselves a little unlucky not to have come away with a point from a game in which United struggled to hit top gear.
The Black Cats matched the home team in a first half which produced few chances for either side.
But United took the lead on the stroke of half-time in the wake of a great block by Keiren Weswood to Nani’s shot.
Nani put the resulting corner in from the right and with Wes Brown unsighted by Danny Welbeck, the Sunderland defender saw the ball too late and nodded into his own goal.
United were more like their normal selves in the second half and as well as Westwood producing a brilliant double save to deny first Wayne Rooney and then Patrice Evra, Kieran Richardson did well to head a goal-bound effort from Hernandez off the line.
Sunderland had a couple of half-chances late on but just couldn’t quite do enough to prevent Brown’s home goal from separating the two sides at the final whistle.
* Full report in tonight’s Football Echo.