Manchester United centre-back Chris Smalling has hailed Robin Van Persie as a 'quality player' after his goal sent United on their way to a 3-1 victory over Sunderland on Saturday.

The Holland international scored again at the weekend against O'Neil's Black Cats, taking his tally for the season to 15.

The former-Arsenal captain moved to United for £24m this summer, and Smalling revealed the Dutchman hit the ground running, even without a proper pre-season with his new club.

Smalling is quoted on Goal.com as saying: "I saw the finish [for his goal]. It wasn't easy to put it in that top corner but he is a quality player.

"Obviously he only came in the summer and didn't have much of a pre-season. But he came straight into the matches and has been such a threat," Smalling continued.

Van Persie and Rooney have struck up an impressive partnership, both players found the scoresheet against struggling Sunderland.

And the Dutchman's all-round game has won praise from Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, as well as his teammates.

"He is putting teams on the back foot and making our job easier at the back," Smalling added.

United maintained their lead atop the Premier League table with victory at Old Trafford at the weekend, and Van Persie's goal took him level with Swansea forward Michu on 12 league goals for the season.

The Netherlands international won the Premier League Golden Boot race last season, scoring 30 league goals for the Gunners, and he can became only the third player ever to win back-to-back Golden Boots - after Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry.

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