Januzaj inspires United win at Sunderland
© AFP

Two goals from 18-year-old Adnan Januzaj inspired a second-half comeback as Manchester United snatched a 2-1 win at Sunderland in the English Premier League.

Trailing for 50 minutes to Craig Gardner's early goal, United were facing a third consecutive league defeat, something they have not experienced since 2001, until the young Belgian struck twice in the second half.

His telling contribution spared United manager David Moyes from further scrutiny, in the wake of consecutive defeats by Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion, and lifted the defending champions into the top half of the table.

Sunderland had opted for an extra man in midfield, and another change of central defensive partnership for United, proved decisive in the first goal.

Ondrej Celustka beat Januzaj in a 50-50 challenge just inside United's half and when Emanuele Giaccherini crossed, Phil Jones hit his clearance at Nemanja Vidic, who miscontrolled.

Gardner, playing as the extra man in midfield thanks to Celustka's inclusion at right-back, pounced to steer a good finish inside the far post to give the home side a fifth-minute lead.

Jones and Vidic were the fifth central defensive partnership that Moyes had tried in as many games.

Jones made a nervy start, caught in possession by Gardner in the ninth minute, only to make an excellent recovering slide tackle in the penalty area. Vidic looked unsettled throughout by Jozy Altidore's strength.

Januzaj's selection was the most eye-catching of the visitors' four changes. The teenager, who also qualifies to represent Albania, had been spared the long mid-week trip to play Shakhtar Donetsk as he is not registered in the UEFA Champions League.

David de Gea made a terrific right-handed save when Giaccherini found himself in a generous amount of space from Adam Johnson's cross and the Italian also shot over in the 44th minute after Johnson spread panic in the United defence.

Keiren Westwood saved Rafael da Silva's powerful shot well in the 41st minute, but it was a rare moment of first-half action for the Sunderland goalkeeper.

Ten minutes into the second half, Januzaj played a one-two with Evra and finished calmly just inside the left-hand post. 

Four minutes later, Westwood had to make a good save after Robin Van Persie got on the end of a cross from Evra.

When Nani crossed from the right with the outside of his boot, O'Shea's clearing header was weak and Januzaj volleyed it expertly into the net. With 29 minutes left, the game had been transformed.

Rafael's slightly weak left-footed shot and Van Persie's tame finish when played through by Antonio Valencia apart, United offered little threat thereafter, but Januzaj had broken Sunderland's spirit.