Ibrahimovic inspiration keeps Man United in top-four race

We believe in it and we will do everything we can to reach the top four. We know we go to Brussels for the Europa League and it is more hard for us but we keep fighting.

Divisive midfielder Maroaune Fellaini captained Mourinho's side on Wearside in the absence of seven first-team regulars, but strength in depth meant such absentees were not problematic against the league's bottom side.

Sunderland manager David Moyes felt referee Craig Pawson had not done his side any favours.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his 28th goal of the season as Manchester United closed on the Premier League top four with a routine 3-0 win at relegation-threatened Sunderland on Sunday.

Equally importantly for Mourinho, his depleted squad sustained no fresh injuries as they step up their preparations for the midweek Europa League quarter-final first-leg trip to Anderlecht in a competition which offers a Champions League place to the eventual winners.

The three points were confirmed late on as Marcus Rashford scored his first Premier League goal since September, as the Red Devils move four points behind fourth-placed Man City with a game in-hand'.

"It is the only chance we have to win one more trophy", said Mourinho. It was important for us to win and that was the main objective. With just eight Premier League starts and Mourinho's comments that the England global is far behind the likes of Daley Blind and Ashley Young in the pecking order show that things are really tough for the 21-year-old at old Trafford and that is enough reason why he should consider quitting and move to Tottenham in the summer.

INCIDENTS: Premier League match between Sunderland and Manchester United, held at the Stadium of Light.

The visitors seemed happy to play at a pedestrian pace and Sunderland began to grow in confidence, with Bryan Oviedo and Lee Cattermole both shooting straight at Romero from outside the area. He was taken off just after the hour-mark following an early caution. He was going forward with some danger, he was reading the game well to go when Mkhitaryan went inside.

"You know when Madrid likes a player, they tend to come and get him".

"I thought about a half-time change but thought it was too harsh for [Shaw]", Mourinho added. "We bought him for more than just to score goals".

"United have always been quite cautious with their contracts, but now this sets a risky watermark, and some of their players who are more essential will be knocking on the door soon".

Jose Mourinho made one or two surprising choices in his starting line-up, with Luke Shaw involved despite public criticism from his manager in the past week and Sergio Romero replacing the injured David de Gea in goal.

  • Julie Sanders