Manchester United's period of early crisis under David Moyes may finally be over thanks to a young Belgian wonderkid named Adnan Januzaj. In his first Premier League start, Januzaj almost single-handedly brought United from 1-0 down to a 2-1 victory against Sunderland, scoring a brace at the Stadium of Light.
The match got off to an awful start for United, who started Nemanja Vidic and Phil Jones in the center of defense. Jones has played more midfield and right back than central defender recently while Vidic hasn't exactly been in top form for the last couple of years. Vidic was directly responsible for Sunderland's goal, gifting Craig Gardner an uncontested shot in the 5th minute. He botched a simple clearance, inadvertently touching the ball right to the Sunderland midfielder before he finished past a rightfully stunned David De Gea.
United's central defenders would cause them more problems throughout the first half as their attack failed to create much of note. Sunderland should have gone up 2-0 when a Jones giveaway created a three-on-one, but Gardner squandered it. Jones and Vidic continued to make errors through the first 45, gifting Sunderland half-chances on which they failed to capitalize.
Sunderland's second-best chance of the game came in the 34th minute when Emanuele Giaccherini appeared to have scored on a header. David De Gea came up with a world class save, however, to send United to the locker room down by just one goal. Adam Johnson created the chance with a great cross into the head of Giaccherini, but De Gea got across his goal brilliantly to make a last-second save high and to his right.
The visitors didn't look any better early in the second half until they were fired to life by Januzaj, who was their only truly inventive player in the first half. He made a great late run to the top of the penalty area in the 55th minute to get on the end of a cross by Patrice Evra and placed a calm finish in the lower corner at the near post, putting United level.
Six minutes later, he completed a brace with a goal that was considerably more impressive than the first. A cross that came in from the right flank deflected out towards the left-hand side of the box, 15 yards from the goal. Januzaj was waiting and, without hesitation, wound up for a volley. He smacked a perfect shot past Kieran Westwood, sealing a stunning debut brace and putting United ahead.
Seemingly stunned by how quickly the game turned around on the feet of an 18-year-old, Sunderland struggled to create much of note from then until the end of the match as United held on to win without much of a problem. Januzaj's first goal came against the run of play, but United were very much in control for the final 30 minutes. There was a bit of late controversy late when Wayne Rooney blocked a shot with his hands up in the air and the Sunderland players shouted for handball, but the referee, correctly, judged that the ball had not struck Rooney's arm.
Sunderland: Westwood, Celustka, O'Shea, Roberge, Colback, Cattermole, Ki (Wickham 74'), Gardner (Larsson 56'), Johnson (Ji 64'), Giaccherini, Altidore
Goals: Gardner (5')
Manchester United: De Gea, Evra, Vidic, Jones, Rafael (Smalling 86'), Carrick, Cleverley, Januzaj (Valencia 77'), Rooney, Nani (Welbeck 77'), van Persie
Goals: Januzaj (55', 61')