• Sunderland 1-2 Manchester United, Premier League

Januzaj double rescues United

ESPN staff
October 5, 2013 « Carrick wants new United deal | Chartbeat test »
Adnan Januzaj made his first Premier League start for Manchester United © PA Photos
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Teenager Adnan Januzaj was the hero for Manchester United as his double helped the champions come from behind to beat Sunderland 2-1 to end their losing streak in the Premier League.

Craig Gardner put Sunderland in front after five minutes following a woeful clearance from Nemanja Vidic, and United had their goalkeeper David de Gea to thank for keeping them just a goal down after the Spaniard made a superb finger-tip save to deny Emanuele Giaccherini with a header.

United regrouped after the break and were back on level terms 10 minutes into the second period, with Januzaj beginning and finishing a move with a neat finish to drill the ball beyond Keiren Westwood.

The 18-year-old then netted his second in tremendous fashion six minutes later, keeping his eyes on the ball to convert a left-footed volley.

On an afternoon when United were far from their best, they were all but taken apart by the bottom-of-the-table Black Cats before the break with Gardner's opener setting the stage for a concerted assault by the home side.

But David Moyes' men, who were facing a third successive Barclays Premier League defeat for the first time since December 2001, responded in the second half and eventually earned their reward.

Defeat left Sunderland with just a single point from the 21 they have now contested, and watching owner Ellis Short knowing he needs to find a replacement for Paolo Di Canio sooner rather than later.

Interim head coach Kevin Ball could have been forgiven for sending his team out simply to batten down the hatches and attempt to deny United anything in a bad to halt a run of three home defeats in the league.

However, the 48-year-old, who guided the Black Cats to a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford during his last spell in temporary charge, decided attack was the best form of defence and went for it from the off.

It took the hosts just five minutes to get their noses in front, although the goal arrived courtesy of some calamitous defending which rather set the tone for United's first-half display.

Giaccherini tricked his way past Patrice Evra on the Sunderland right all too easily and fired in a cross which Phil Jones thumped straight at team-mate Vidic.

The Serbia international could do little more than present the ball to the fast-arriving Gardner, who drilled a low shot across keeper David de Gea and into the bottom corner.

Few inside the Stadium of Light expected anything other than a ruthless fightback from the visitors, but United's efforts to get themselves back into the game were subdued at best.

Januzaj fired in a series of shots from distance, most of which were blocked by a defence in which the recalled Valentin Roberge in particular proved impressively stubborn, while Wayne Rooney, back in the starting line-up after recovering from a shin injury, carelessly ran into an offside position as he attempted to get on the end of Evra's 14th-minute cross to the near post.

But Moyes' men were astonishingly fragile at the back, where Jones in particular was found wanting on more than one occasion, and the Black Cats could have gone in at the break with a significantly bigger lead to defend after it.

Gardner made the most of the defender's indecision to run in on goal once again with nine minutes gone, but with the unmarked Jozy Altidore pleading for a cross, he delayed and Jones managed to recover.

However, it was De Gea who came to the rescue 11 minutes before the break when he somehow managed to claw away Giaccherini's goal-bound header with a save of genuine quality.

Westwood was called upon to beat away Nani's 41st-minute shot, but Giaccherini might have doubled Sunderland's lead in the final minute of the first half when he was presented with another golden opportunity by Adam Johnson's run through a porous United defence, only to sky his effort high over the bar.

United's desperation was summed up within three minutes of the restart when Januzaj collapsed in a heap as he went past John O'Shea inside the penalty area and was promptly booked for diving.

But the Belgian was not to be denied and his industry paid off seven minutes later when he played the ball out to Evra on the left and then worked his way into the penalty area to meet the Frenchman's cross with an assured finish.

Westwood had to get down well to keep out a 58th-minute Robin van Persie snapshot, but he was powerless to prevent United taking the lead three minutes later.

O'Shea got his head to Nani's right-wing cross and the ball dropped nicely for Januzaj, who gleefully dispatched it into the bottom corner with a sweet left-foot volley.

Van Persie should have made sure at the death after being played in by substitute Antonio Valencia, put prodded his effort wide of the upright.

David de Gea's save kept Manchester United in the game © PA Photos
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