New Delhi: Manchester United suffered a humiliating defeat to relegation fighting Sunderland even as defending champions Chelsea continue to seek league revival under Guus Hiddink on Saturday.
On a hectic English Premier League gameweek, Louis van Gaal's coterie of underperforming Red Devils travel to Stadium of Light in search of redemption. But Saturday's early kick-off soon took a well too familiar narrative with the Old Trafford giants conceding an early goal to the Black Cats.
Tunisian midfielder Wahbi Khazri's third minuted goal exposed United like never before, and van Gaal's slump was evident from the evident of attacking will. Like in many previous games, Anthony Martial proved the saviour for the visitors, who scored from a vantage position after an initial Juan Mata attempt from close range.
United's 39th minute equaliser was not enough as lifeless contest against a relegation zone team turned nasty at the 82nd minute with Lamine Kone climbing high to connect his header from a corner, to find the back of the net.
The goal, however, was ruled an own goal to David de Gea, which pretty summed up their plight. The Spaniard goal-keeper, who was pursued by Real Madrid whole summer, was their best player these season.
With the defeat, the most successful club in England now face a real danger of missing out on the lucrative UEFA Champions League spot.
As things stand now, Red Devils are fifth with 41 points after having played round 26, one more game than the four teams above them, and six points behind fourth place City. Leaders Leicester are further six points ahead their neighbours.
For Sam Allardyce's side, it was their first win over United at home. Today's win also give Big Sam's team a realistic chance to escape the gut, having move within a point to 17th place Norwich.
Later in the day, Norwich played out a deserving 2-2 draw against West Ham United at Carrow Road. The Canaries will however be disappointed with the result after leading the Hammers by two goals to nil.
Irish players Robbie Brady and Wesley Hoolahan scored in the 54th and 65th minutes, but they conceded the equalisers in double quick time. Dimitri Payet was the hero the visitors as the French play-maker first scored in the 74th minute, then within a couple of minutes assisted Mark Noble to the second goal.
Hammers are at seventh place, behind Southampton on goal difference. Both the teams have 40 points each after the 26th round in England.
The Saints returned with all three points from Swansea with tireless Shane Long scoring the lone goal at Liberty Stadium. His goal assured Ronald Koeman's side move within a striking distance of familiar foe and Dutch compatriot LVG's United, by one point.
The result also meant that the Swans are without a win in three games after their brief revival in fortunes. They are at 16th place, three points more than Norwich.
In another second lot match today, ever impressive Stoke City registered a comfortable 3-1 win over hosts Bournemouth at Dean Court. Gianelli Imbula Wanga (9'), Ibrahim Afellay (52') and Joselu (55') scored for the visitors, while Matt Ritchie (57') scored the lone goal for the Cherries.
The win helps Mark Hughes side stop the slide of losing three consecutive league games. They are now at ninth place with 36 points.
For, Bournemouth, it was their second successive defeat in an otherwise impressive season after the promotion. They occupy 15th spot with 28 points.
Meanwhile, Everton sufferd their first defeat in three games as a counter attacking West Brom escaped with all three points from a closely guarded Goodison Park.
Venezuelan forward Jose Rondon's 14th minute strike was enough for Tony Pulis' visiting side to beat Roberto Martinez's fluent but seemingly flawed side at Merseyside.
Everton are at tenth place with 35 points, in what could be a tight mid-table standing, and West Brom at 13th with 32 points.
Another promoted side Watford played returned home victorious after a thrilling encounter at Selhurst Park as little known England forward Troy Deeney grabbing a brace.
Alan Pardew's Crystal Palace certainly started as the favourites but, indiscipline cost them the match. First it was experienced Mile Jedinak, who wrapped around his marked player inside the box. It led to a penalty with referee Robert Madley, as expected, pointing at the dreaded spot.
Deeney converted from the spot. Then, towards the closing stages of the match, he killed off the contest to give Quique Flores a deserved win. Senegal defender Pape Souare was sent off in the 94th minute for an ill-time tackle to further complicate Pardew's situation.
Thanks to the win, Watford have moved to eighth position with 36 points, while Palace found themselves in 12th with 32 points.
In the late kick-off, undefeated Chelsea under Guus Hiddink welcome struggling Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge. A win will allow the defending champions to move to 12th place, and keep their chances for an European qualification alive. At the time of filing the report, Chelsea are already 3-0 up at half-time with Diego Costa (5'), Pedro (9') and Willian (17') finding the back of the net.