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United are losing grounds in their race for a Champions League place while pressure continues to mount for Louis van Gaal.
Sunderland took the lead just two minutes in to the game through a freekick from new signing Wahbi Kharzi from the edge of the area.
Jermain Defoe jumped over the ball, which confused the United defence as the ball curled into the far post.
United responded slowly but got a chance in the fifth minute but the Sunderland defence did enough to stop Wayne Rooney after he was played in by Juan Mata.
Defoe had a chance to duble Sunderlend’s lead in the 12th minute but close range strike was deflected off by Chris Smalling.
Sunderland were still getting half chances and had a shout for a penalty turned down after Morgan Schneiderlin handled the ball on the 18-yard line of the penalty area on 26 minutes.
Anthony Martial restored parity for United in the 39th minute as he pounced on spilled ball by Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone from a Mata shot to chip the ball into the net.
United got hold of the game in the second half but could only control possession without troubling the Sunderland defence.
That has been the story of Van Gaal’s Manchester United this season.
Substitue, Memphis Depay, had his curling shot punched away from Mannone as he forward was lively early in the second half.
The game was heading for a draw before Lamine Koné lost his marker to head in a corner which De Gea put into his own net in the 83rd minute.