Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal admitted that his side might not qualify for next season’s Champions League after they could not cope with Sunderland’s aggression as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.
Lamine Kone’s header helped Sunderland to the win as he powered Wahbi Khazri’s 82nd-minute corner towards David de Gea. The ball then ricocheted between the goalkeeper and Anthony Martial on the line before ending up in the back of the net. It was officially credited as a De Gea own goal.
Earlier Martial had cancelled out Khazri’s third-minute opener.
It was the Black Cats’ first league victory over United on Wearside since 1997 and left a crowd of 41,687 with fresh belief that Sam Allardyce can lead the club to safety, while the visitors’ hopes of a top-four finish suffered a major blow.
“You have to win this kind of game,” Van Gaal said. “We can only blame ourselves. We could not cope with Sunderland’s aggression.
“Top four will be very difficult now. We have given five points away. I have told the players the top four will be very difficult. You cannot close your eyes to that.”
Meanwhile Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce says his side’s 2-1 victory over Manchester United is a “big statement” in their bid to avoid relegation.