After the break, David Moyes' men had only been on the field for a minute before Henrikh Mkhitaryan doubled the Red Devils lead in the second half.
The former Sweden worldwide has now hit the back of the net 250 times in his career since he turned 30, and likened himself to Benjamin Button who ages in reverse in the 2008 film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I know [Billy] Jones gets pinned from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he should try and get in front.
With the EPL's top four all having won on Saturday, it was essential for United to return to winning ways having been left disappointed by home draws in its previous two games. Because of course I can't move the same as five or 10 years ago, but the older, the more experienced, the more intelligent [you get], you don't waste so much energy on things you don't really need.
Ibrahimovic put his continued good form down to hard work and compared himself to film character Benjamin Button, who lived his life in reverse.
Moyes also vowed to fight on despite his team lying 10 points adrift of safety.
Fifth-placed United closed to within four points of Manchester City in fourth and Ibrahimovic's impressive form was again acknowledged by Mourinho.
Manchester United fans were caught by surprise when Jose Mourinho named his starting line-up for the Premier League clash against Sunderland.
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Ibrahimovic took his goals tally to 28 for the season as the veteran continues to make a mockery of those that doubted whether he could cut it at United aged 35.
So, this begs the question, what is the better deal for United, letting de Gea go and replacing him with Lloris, or trying to do all they can to keep the Spaniard this summer?
United's task became easier when Sebastian Larsson was red carded for a lunge at Ander Herrera. "The Premier League we cannot win, but Europa League we can", Mourinho said.
Sunderland spurned its best chance of the game ten minutes later when Victor Anichebe did his best Ibrahimovic impression, holding off Eric Bailly before forcing a fine save from stand-in United goalkeeper Sergio Romero.
Moyes said: "We'll have a look at it".
He said: "We have to fix our own faults first but I certainly didn't think the decisions helped us today". This is reminiscent of the start of the 2015/16 season, when Louis van Gaal left the Spaniard out for a number of games due to the flirtation with Spanish club.