Manchester United’s teenage protege Adrian Januzaj scored a brace to help the Premier League champions stage a comeback against managerless Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Sunderland’s opened scoring within five minutes of play through Craig Gardner, whose right-footed shot from the centre of the box beat goalkeeper David de Gea into the bottom left corner.
Wayne Rooney returned to David Moyes’ starting line up after missing midweek Champions League draw at Shakhter Donetsk, while Robin van Persie also made his first start since suffering a groin injury.
But it was the 18-year-old Belgium midfielder who silenced the home crowd early in the second-half with a 15-yard finish from a Louis Nani ball.
As if that was not enough for the player, who has been nicknamed ‘The New Ryan Giggs’ by many United fans, he volleyed in from John O’Shea’s headed clearance late on in the second-half to cap a memorable United comeback.
The victory eases the burden of under-performance off the sleeves of Moyes’ suit, having watched his side play two consecutive league matches without a win.
The victory saw United climb up to ninth on the table while Sunderland, under caretaker manager Kevin Ball, are buried in the bottom of the table without a victory so far this season.
The ‘Black Cats’ got off to a bright start against a United side which has been weak in the defence in recent games.
They were soon ahead when Nemanja Vidic horribly failed to control Phil Jones’ touch to Emmanuelle Giacherrini’s cross and the ball fell into the path of Gardner, who fired home in fine style from 12 yards.
Jones, dawdling on the ball on the half-way line, later allowed Gardner to sprint clear and break into the area, but the Sunderland player failed to decide on time to increase the tally before the United defender returned with a better challenge.
Lee Cantermole was a torn on Michael Carrick’s flesh, winning most of the midfield battle as Sunderland piled pressure on their visitors.
Januzaj spun away from the defenders on the edge of the area in the 16th minute and fired a shot just past the left far post. At that moment it was clear the wonderkid with some lovely quick feet got some game.
In the 20th minute, Nani’s right-footed stinging volley from the centre of the box flew wide off the left post following a Patrice Evra cross, after Giacherrini had given away the ball cheaply. Two minutes later Januzaj had another shot from outside the box saved by goalkeeper Kieren Westwood.
United were almost two goals down three minutes after the half-hour mark when Adam Johnson’s cross found Giacherrini surprisingly free, only for David De Gea to sensationally keep out the Italian’s header with a one-handed save to the bottom left corner.
Januzaj’s left-footed shot from the right side of the box following a slick passing move between the trio of Rooney, Carrick and Van Persie, was blocked by a defender in the 38th minute, before Nani fired failed to beat Westwood at his near post with his cannon right-footed shot.
Giacherrini ballooned over the top the final goalscoring opportunity of the first-half, after Johnson’s cutback and the hosts were 1-0 up at the interval.
Two minutes into the second-half, referee Chris Foy turned down a penalty appeal by the champions when Januzaj went down. The Belgian was rather booked for diving.
Six minutes later, Januzaj got his first Premier League goal for United. Nani got away on the left of the penalty area and picked out the teenager, who calmly side-footed home from 15 yards.
Van Persie’s well-hit left-footed shot from the centre of the area after a cross from Evra was well kept out by Westwood as United started to look dangerous on the attack with just 12 minutes into the half.
The big moment came in the hour mark when Januzaj helped inspire United’s comeback and calm Moyes’ nerves. Ex-United defender O’Shea failed to completely clear Nani’s cross from the right, spilling the ball in the path of Januzaj, who sent a volley flying back into the far corner with an effortless swing of the left foot.
The teenagers brilliance quickly deflated the atmosphere at the Stadium of Light.
Rooney then spilled a right-footed shot high and wide from 15 yards in the 73rd minute and Van Persie missed a left-footed shot from the centre of the box, after running on a cute pass from substitute Antonio Valencia.
United held on to victory in the closing stages of the encounter. The defeat marks the second on a trot for Ball, whose team seats at the foot of the table on one point after seven games.