Man Utd needed Ibrahimovic to break Sunderland - Mourinho

"And there were other games like that". I wanted him to play a little bit more, so at 2-0, one hour in, with the crowd asking for everything and putting the referee under a little bit of pressure, no risk [taken].

"The result was good", said United manager Jose Mourinho, whose side will return to sixth place if Arsenal win at Crystal Palace on Monday.

"After Liverpool and Manchester City's victories, if we didn't win today it's nearly mathematically impossible [to finish fourth]".

The Red Devils have huffed and puffed but the teams above them - the likes of Liverpool and Man City - won't let up.

United didn't have too much to do after Sebastian Larsson was sent off for Sunderland but in the early stages of the first half, Victor Anichebe and Defoe caused United a few problems when they ran off the shoulders of the two centre-backs.

In the 89th minute Ibrahimovic combined with substitute Rashford who beat Pickford with a cross-shot for his first league goal since September.

United will lock horns with Anderlecht in the first leg of the Europa quarter-finals while they will take on Chelsea in their next Premier League clash.

"What we have now is not bad at all but if you ask me how far we are from having the team I want, it's far", Mourinho said. "We fear that situation but the performance was quite solid". "We keep going. We have another home game next Saturday (against West Ham United) and we have to try and win it". "So we have to accept the criticism from the coach and we have to keep on working because the most important thing is to work and improve and gather experience". Home-grown 18-year-old midfielder Tom Davies put Everton ahead after only 31 seconds following a dart into the box by Kevin Mirallas. We have to look at that as the priority now.

"We felt the game was in our pocket".

Mourinho's overall thoughts: "We got the three points and it was a solid performance against a team which is sad - that's normal - and when you play against a team that is sad, if you score before them the game is nearly over because it's hard to react".

What makes this incident of "lip-reading" all the more impressive is that we can't actually see Michael Carrick's face - let alone his mouth - for the majority of the conversation. In his new position he can create more.

Less than a minute into the second half another moment of individual brilliance doubled United's lead. "You could feel that negative feeling that is around a team that is close to relegation".

  • Julie Sanders