London: Manchester United re-established their six-point advantage at the top of the Premier League by sweeping Sunderland aside 3-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Manchester City had trimmed United's lead to three points by winning at Newcastle United earlier in the day, but Alex Ferguson's men reasserted their authority with a convincing display against the Black Cats.
Robin van Persie broke the deadlock in the 16th minute, deftly guiding a shot into the top-left corner after an enterprising run down the left flank from winger Ashley Young.
Tom Cleverley's fine finish, following a one-two with Michael Carrick, made it 2-0 three minutes later, before van Persie teed up strike partner Wayne Rooney for United's third just before the hour.
United captain Nemanja Vidic made his return following a long-term knee injury as a second-half substitute and even a 72nd-minute header by Sunderland's former United striker Fraizer Campbell could not spoil the hosts' day.
"For an hour, we were fantastic," United manager Ferguson told BBC Sport.
"Some of our football was very good and we could have scored lots of goals. But I don't know what happened after that because Sunderland could have had two or three towards the end. It could have been embarrassing."
Defending champions City had returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory at Newcastle. (Read full report here)