Saturday 08 March 2014
Premierleague.com rifles through the annals of the Barclays Premier League to find significant events.
Michael Gray scored a rare goal as struggling Sunderland earned a surprise win over Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester United.
Gray and John Mullin struck in the second half and, although Black Cats defender Andy Melville put through his own net late on, the hosts held on to end a run of four straight defeats and earn their first win in seven league matches.
United came into the contest having beaten Porto 4-0 in the UEFA Champions League three days earlier and manager Alex Ferguson had said his players looked tired.
Sunderland’s strike duo of Mullin and Michael Bridges caused Ferguson’s reshuffled defence problems all match. The visitors were without the injured Gary Pallister so Ronnie Johnsen came into a three-man back line with the Neville brothers, Gary and Phil, playing as wing-backs.
Mullin set up the first goal for Gray in the 57th minute. The striker challenged Peter Schmeichel for Gareth Hall’s cross and forced the United goalkeeper into an error, and Gray pounced to score his third goal of the season.
It was 2-0 in the 76th minute when Mullin raced clear and Schmeichel could not hold on to his shot. Two minutes later, Melville’s own goal gave Ferguson’s side late hope but they could not find an equaliser.
The victory took Sunderland up one place in the table to 15th but they could only win two of their remaining nine matches and were relegated by a point, a season after winning promotion.
By contrast, United lost onlyone of their closing nine matches and won the title by seven points from Arsenal.