Man United beats Sunderland 2-0, wrong player sent off
Feb. 28, 2015
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United's 2-0 win over Sunderland in the English Premier League on Saturday was overshadowed by referee Roger East appearing to dismiss the wrong Black Cats player.
East pointed to the spot in the second half after Radamel Falcao was felled by John O'Shea. However, it was his teammate Wes Brown who was sent off.
East's decision occurred on the same day that soccer's rule-makers ruled out the imminent use of video technology.
The English Football Association backs the wider implementation of technology — three years after goal-line aids were approved for use — but FIFA is blocking any moves to allow referees to defer to video replays.
The Professional Game Match Officials Limited - the board that manages the referees, released a statement hours after the final whistle.
"From his position Roger East, the match referee, believed he saw contact from John O'Shea and Wes Brown on Radamel Falcao," the statement read. "As he thought Brown made a foul on Falcao while he was in the act of shooting, he dismissed Brown. After the incident the match referee consulted with his team of officials but none were better placed to offer guidance."
Wayne Rooney converted the subsequent penalty, ending his eight-game spell without a league goal, since another brace in the 3-1 win over Newcastle in December.
The United captain netted from close range in the 85th as the hosts temporarily leapfrogged Arsenal into third place in the table.
"It's great to score but the three points are the most important thing after last week. We deserved the three points," Rooney said.
United labored in the first half with Sunderland creating chances for strikers Jermain Defoe and Connor Wickham. Neither managed to capitalize on their chances, with goalkeeper David De Gea foiling the pair inside the opening 10 minutes. Defoe spurned another opportunity in the 16th with De Gea gathering his tame effort.
The hosts almost took the lead courtesy of one of their former players. O'Shea deflected Ashley Young's shot against his own bar in the 25th, with Young curling another effort just wide of Costel Pantilimon's left-hand post in the 33rd.
Louis Van Gaal introduced Adnan Januzaj at the start of the second for the below-par Angel Di Maria, a move that galvanized the home side.
"The first half could be better, but the second half we controlled the match. I'm very pleased," Van Gaal said.
"The players protested more because they felt the wrong player was sent off. That's a mistake. You make mistakes as well, and so do I. It can happen," United manager Van Gaal added on Brown's dismissal.
The win moved United two points ahead of Arsenal, with the Gunners hosting Everton on Sunday.