Man United ride luck in 2-0 win
Manchester United rode their luck yesterday as England captain, Wayne Rooney, scored twice in a 2-0 win against struggling 10-man Sunderland, but his success was overshadowed by another refereeing controversy in the Premier League.
One week on from the fury at Chelsea's home clash with Burnley, referee Roger East was at the centre of an alleged case of mistaken identity at Old Trafford.
Rooney scored from a penalty after 66 minutes when Radamel Falcao was fouled by John O'Shea and referee East sent off Wes Brown, instead of O'Shea, leaving the visitors to struggle on with 10 men. Ironically, both defenders are former United players.
O'Shea, who clearly pulled Falcao back as he was about to shoot, pleaded with East to send him off instead, but Brown was shown the red card and walked.
no guidance offered
East explained later, in a statement issued by the referees' body that he believed he saw both players make contact with Falcao, but added that none of the officials at the match offered any guidance.
Rooney scored his second goal six minutes from time to ensure victory and lift United back to third in the Premier League behind leader Chelsea and second-place defending champions Manchester City, both of whom did not play yesterday.
Chelsea meet Tottenham Hotspur in the English League Cup final today when City visits Liverpool and Arsenal host Everton in the Premier League.
Yesterday's win confirmed United's challenge for a return to the Champions League on a day when Southampton, the only other top team in action, was beaten 1-0 by improving West Bromwich Albion.
West Ham United's fading bid for a place in Europe was hit in the day's early fixture when they lost 3-1 at home to Crystal Palace while Swansea won 1-0 at Burnley, Newcastle beat struggling Aston Villa, under the new management of Tim Sherwood, 1-0 and Stoke overcame Hull also by one goal.
In all, four of the six Saturday fixtures produced just a single goal and, for the second consecutive week, a key refereeing decision became the chief talking point.
Referee East spoke to his assistants at Old Trafford before he confirmed his decision to send off Brown. The fourth official at the game was Martin Atkinson who was the referee in charge when Chelsea drew 1-1 with Burnley a week earlier, an encounter that was also engulfed in controversy about his decision making with Chelsea manager JosÈ Mourinho citing four questionable incidents.