TEENAGER Adnan Januzaj blasted Manchester United to a face-saving 2-1 victory at Sunderland with a superb double on his first start for the club.
Scorers: Sunderland: Gardner 5; Manchester United: Januzaj 55, 61
The 18-year-old Belgian winger, who had earlier been booked for diving, dragged a misfiring United back into the game with a calmly-taken 55th-minute equaliser and then smashed a dipping volley past Black Cats keeper Keiren Westwood to win the game just six minutes later.
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 Craig Gardner’s fifth-minute 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. 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.
It took the hosts just five minutes to get their noses in front, although the goal arrived courtesy of some calamitous defending. Emanuele 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 Nemanja 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.
United’s desperation to get back in the game 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.
Six minutes later, O’Shea got his head to Nani’s right-wing cross but the ball dropped nicely for Januzaj, who dispatched it into the bottom corner with a sweet left-foot volley.
Moyes was impressed with the young midfielder’s double goalscoring debut and revealed he came close to giving him his first start a few weeks ago.
Moyes said: “I remember giving Wayne [Rooney] his debut and Adnan is certainly that quality. He’s a top, top player.
“I would have played him two or three weeks ago but it didn’t work. We just never quite got the opportunity for different reasons and I thought today was the right time and it was hard to stop him.
“He’s going to be a special talent and he showed he’s got goals and ability. We will keep his feet on the ground.”
Sunderland caretaker manager Kevin Ball was frustrated after a one-goal lead against the defending champions turned into a 2-1 defeat.
When asked what his feelings were after the game, Ball said: “Probably a bit of disappointment having done so well in the first half and scored the goal.
“We knew it was going to be difficult in the second half. The players and myself are disappointed as they worked very hard today.”