x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

David Moyes, the Manchester United manager, likened Adnan Januzaj’s potential to that of Wayne Rooney after the Belgian teenager turned match winner on his full league debut against Sunderland.

Adnan Januzaj, right, marked his first Premier League start with both goals for Manchester United against Sunderland. Ian Macnicol / AFP
Adnan Januzaj, right, marked his first Premier League start with both goals for Manchester United against Sunderland. Ian Macnicol / AFP

SUNDERLAND 1

Gardner 05’

MANCHESTER UNITED 2

Januzaj 55’, 61’

SUNDERLAND // David Moyes, the Manchester United manager, likened Adnan Januzaj’s potential to that of Wayne Rooney after the Belgian teenager turned match winner yesterday on his full league debut.

United were trailing 1-0 at half time and facing a third straight league defeat before Januzaj, 18, came up with a superb double.

The 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 keeper Keiren Westwood to win the game six minutes later.

“He is a wonderful player, he is someone who we think a lot of,” said Moyes. “He can do most things and play in lots of different positions. He is a real talent. I gave Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley their debuts at Everton and he is certainly in their category too.”

With United far from their best, they were all but taken apart by bottom-of-the-table Sunderland before the break with Craig Gardner’s fifth-minute opener setting the stage for a concerted assault by the home side.

But Moyes’s men, who were facing a third successive 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.

“I thought the first half we worked every so well. I thought we deserved the goal and we had a couple more chances,” said Sunderland’s interim manager Kevin Ball

“Half time comes but you are aware that the opposition will come out firing in the second half and that is what they did. In the Premier League you need to take your chances.”

Ball could have been forgiven for sending his team out to batten down the hatches and deny United anything in a bid to halt a run of three home defeats in the league.

However, Ball, who guided the club to a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford during his last spell in temporary charge, in 2006, decided attack was the best form of defence.

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, where they could have gone into the break trailing by more than just a single goal.

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 teammate 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 struggled to create much in the first half and their desperation to get back in the match was summed up within three minutes of the restart when Januzaj, who had four previous substitute appearances, collapsed in a heap as he went past John O’Shea inside the penalty area and was booked for diving.

But he 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.

Then, on 61 minutes, O’Shea got his head to Nani’s right-wing cross and the ball dropped nicely for Januzaj, who dispatched it into the bottom corner with a sweet left-foot volley.

“I thought we played well with the exception of the opening five or 10 minutes,” said Moyes. “I am pleased we have won, I am not going to get too excited. At the moment we scored, we needed it but I wasn’t getting too low.

“I thought it was exciting and I enjoyed it today.”