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Adnan Januzaj's goalscoring double on his first Barclays Premier League start secured a 2-1 win for Manchester United over Sunderland. The 18-year-old Belgian struck twice in six second-half minutes as United came from behind to win, leaving interim head coach Kevin Ball's Sunderland bottom and still searching for their first league win of the season.
Sunderland had capitalised on some sloppy United defending early in the match to take the lead through Craig Gardner, but missed opportunities to extend their advantage as United's latest young star stole the show. Januzaj opened his account in the 55th minute as he met a low cross from Patrice Evra and fired past Keiren Westwood from close range. His second, making him become only the second United player after Ruud van Nistelrooy; to score twice on his first Barclays Premier League start, came just after the hour with a crisp left-foot volley that nestled in the bottom corner.
Robin van Persie returned to league action having been on the bench for United's defeat by West Bromwich Albion last weekend, while Wayne Rooney started despite missing their midweek UEFA Champions League clash with Shakhtar Donetsk. Ball made two changes to the Sunderland side beaten by Liverpool, with Ondrej Celustka and Valentin Roberge coming in for Sebastian Larsson and Carlos Cuellar.
The home side made the perfect start with five minutes gone as Gardner took advantage of poor defending from United to open the deadlock. Emanuele Giaccherini fired a low cross from the right that Phil Jones and Nemanja Vidic failed to clear and Gardner pounced from seven yards.
Januzaj and Nani were the biggest threat for the visitors and both spurned first-half chances. Nani was first to send a long-range effort towards goal but his shot was wide, while Januzaj missed the target from the edge of the penalty area after neatly turning away from two defenders.
Sunderland had a fantastic opportunity to double their lead in the 34th minute but Giaccherini's header was denied by an excellent save from David De Gea. The Italian met a left-wing cross from Adam Johnson but the Spaniard made a remarkable save to his right.
Nani continued to be dangerous for United and forced the first save out of Westwood in the 41st minute after meeting a Rafael Da Silva cross. Sunderland failed to clear the cross and the Portugal winger fired towards goal from a tight angle but the goalkeeper pushed it wide.
United got themselves level 10 minutes into the second half through the impressive Januzaj, who fed the ball out to Evra on the left and was perfectly placed to convert the Frenchman's cross from inside the penalty area. Van Persie tested Westwood with a low shot soon after but it was Januzaj who fired them ahead just after the hour.
Former United defender John O'Shea failed to clear a Nani cross from the right and the Belgian volleyed the loose ball across Westwood and into the bottom corner. United could have extended their lead late on but Van Persie missed a clear sight of goal with a finish wide of Westwood's goal.
Sunderland interim head coach Kevin Ball: "We played so well first half, scored the first goal, created a couple of chances. It was a great save from 'Giacchi''s header and coming into half-time we knew it was going to be difficult in the second half. We knew the players would have to dig deep.
"We've looked at the two goals we’ve conceded and the players and myself are a little bit disappointed. We feel the goals could have been prevented with a little bit of communication, so there's a tinge of disappointment because they've worked very hard again today and even towards the end of the game we changed things around a little bit, go a bit more direct.
"We tried to bring Connor [Wickham] on and try to get the ball in their box and we'd have liked to have seen one of our lads on the end of it to put it in the back of the net to create that rounding finish, but unfortunately it didn’t happen for us today.
"I thought, 'Why didn't it go in?' It was a great ball in and a great save, but they are the fine margins; we've created these chances and we need to make sure they go in, whereas at the other end, when it comes to defending, we need to make sure we do our jobs."
Manchester United manager David Moyes: "It was a really good performance. Even at 1-0 down, we made a real hash of the first goal we gave away, but apart from that we played some really good stuff today. I remember giving Wayne [Rooney] his debut and Adnan [Januzaj]'s certainly in that quality. He's a top, top player.
"I would have played him two or three weeks ago but for different reasons it just didn't quite work, but I thought today was the right time; he's been so good, it was hard to stop him. He's going to be a great talent, a really special talent. He's got goals, he’s got ability on the ball, but we’ll keep his feet on the ground here and makes sure he gets on with it. We had him in the [Barclays Under-21 Premier League side] on Monday night, so we won't let him get ahead of himself and we’ll do all the right things with him.
"It was an incredible save [by De Gea]. We'd been playing quite well, although we were 1-0 down, they got a couple of counter-attacks on us and David made an incredible save and I said at half-time, 'David may have kept us in the game' with his save. It was a fantastic save.
“At this club you're expected [to win]. I'll not be getting to excited about it because I won, just like when we were losing I wasn't getting too low either. A lot of other people were, but I wasn't because I know the quality and the players I've got in the dressing room.
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