United lined up with a very strong starting eleven, including a Premier League start for United’s best young prospect Adnan Januzaj. In my opinion his selection is completely deserved. He has looked more than good enough every time he has appeared this season and had a brilliant pre-season tour. He also scored a wonder goal against Bolton reserves in mid week.
Man Utd Starting XI: De Gea, Rafael Da Silva, Jones, Vidic, Evra; Carrick, Cleverley, Nani, Januzaj, Rooney; van Persie.
Subs: Giggs, Smalling, Lindegaard, Hernandez, Welbeck, Valencia, Kagawa.
United shaped up with a 4-4-2 formation rather than their usual 4-2-3-1. Sunderland started brightly with Altidore showing his strength against Vidic and forcing him into a clearance. Unfortunately the usually so reliable Serbian couldn’t repeat that feat just 5 minutes into the game. It was almost a re-run of the goal we conceeded in mid week against Shakhtar. Vidic got his feet all mixed up and miss kicked the ball straight into the path of Craig Gardener who dispatched the ball into the bottom corner past David de Gea. Here we go again…
Nani tried to get an instant equaliser with a good effort from long range that dipped just wide of the post. United were being pressed all over the pitch by Sunderland and Jones was forced into a mistake that left Sunderland 3 on 1 at the back against United. Craig Gardener dwelt on the ball when all he had to do was square it to the two men waiting in the middle. This gave Phil Jones enough time to sprint back and make a magnificent last ditch slide tackle to win the ball and relieve the danger.
United were shading the possession but Sunderland were having most of the territory. Adnan Januzaj had an attempt from distance that went wide of the post. In the final 3rd Sunderland looked dangerous, Altidore in particular was causing problems and won a free-kick after Vidic brought him down in a dangerous position. Thankfully the free-kick went into the wall. Nani had Uniteds best chance of the opening 20 minutes and he really should have done much better with it. Evra played a cross in and it went over everyone’s head to Nani free at the back post. Rather than use the space he had and take a touch, he hit a half assed side foot volley that almost went out for a throw in. So poor.
Moyes was beginning to prowl the technical area shouting instructions in order to get a response from the players. Januzaj again showed hes not afraid to shoot and had a tame effort saved from 25-yards out. At least the lad is having a go. United were missing that final pass and even RVP was guilty of playing the wrong pass in the final 3rd when he is usual so clinical. United looked short of confidence in the oppositions half and you can understand why without scoring a goal from open play since the opening day of the season.
Credit to Sunderland they were playing well and 2 or 3 players were pressing the ball constantly and not giving United any time to play. Surely they cant keep this up all game? Sunderland almost increased their lead when Giaccherini’s powered a free header towards goal from 10 yards. De Gea was at full stretch and needed a strong hand to keep the ball out. Where the hell was the marking!? Not a United player within 5 yards of him. How important could that save be in the context of the match? United were restricted to crosses and pumped balls into the box the Sunderland were dealing with well. The ball dropped to RVP on one occasion and he tried to find Rooney waiting in the middle but John O’Shea did brilliantly to take the ball of Rooney’s toes.
United were beginning to get the ball and keep it in Sunderland’s final 3rd but were yet to have another chance as good as Nani’s earlier on. The pressure was increasing and Nani forced the keeper into a save with a good strike. Rooney was booked for a cynical tackle when Sunderland were on the break and that gave them a respite from the good pressure United had put on them in the last 10 minutes. This was Uniteds best spell of the game and they needed to capitalise on it with a goal. United almost paid the ultimate price for not taking the most of their pressure when Sunderland wasted a great chance. A fantastic run from Andrew Johnson, albeit with a bit of luck, saw him beat a 3 United players and cross for Giaccherini who blazed his half volley over from 10 yards. A let off.
A terrible start to the half by United who got punished for their poor defending. They really improved as the half went on and didn’t want to hear the half time whistle. If we continue like that into the second half we can win this game.
United returned from the break with no changes and Januzaj was booked after a few minutes after an embarrassing dive. We don’t want to see that from the young lad he is good enough and should stay on his feet. Will Moyes have a word with him like he has done Ashley Young i wonder. Sunderland were seeing more of the ball then they were at the end of the second half and a few times United had to clear their lines when under pressure. Craig Gardener was booked for a deliberate hand ball, that could be a god send for United as Gardener will now have to be careful or get subbed.
United’s equaliser came in the 55th minute thanks to a full debut goal from the Young Belgium/Albanian Januzaj. He started the move by playing the ball out to Evra. He wasn’t tracked from deep and arrived in the box unmarked to side foot home Evra’s return cross, keeper no chance. Not even a celebration from United as they looked to get the ball back in play and get the winner. Gardener was subbed after the goal for Larsson. The game was there for United to take whilst Sunderland looked to hit on the break and/or hang on for a point. RVP had a brough a good save from the keeper after brilliant work again from Januzaj and Evra on the left hand side.
The wonderkid was all over the pitch for United and looked the most likely to get the goal to put United ahead. In the 61st minute he duly delivered. What a goal this is! Nani crosses from the right, John O’Shea can only half clear with a header towards Adnan Januzaj, and the youngster sends it flying back into the far corner with one effortless swing of the left peg. A fantastic finish, unbeleivable technique. We are looking at a world class player here WHOS CONTRACT NEEDS SORTING NOW. Not another Pogba please! The United fans are in rapture, unbelievable volume from the travelling lads, absolute class.
United were playing all the football now but we really need another goal to give us breathing space. The tempo worryingly dropped for United after the goal. With 25 mins still to play we needed to put the game to bed and kill Sunderland off. As it stood they could still nick something from the game. In the 75th minute United made a positive attacking change win Nani and Januzaj coming off for Welbeck and Valencia. I was gutted to see the goal scorer go off, he had a fantastic game and has certainly given Moyes plenty to think about. More goals on a debut than Ashley Young manged all last season says it all.
Rafael was the next player to pick up a booking. Loving the chants of Adnan Januzaj to the tune of ‘Baby give it up’, fast becoming a fans favourite. United were content to keep the ball in the final 3rd and make Sunderland chase rather than attempt a killer pass and risk losing the ball. Danny Welbeck got rugby tackled clumsily by John O’shea after being outpaced by the Mancunian lad. A deserved booking for the former team mate. Rafael attempted a left footed shot that fizzed across the path of RVP. The dutchman almost got a toe on it and i think if he did it would have been enough to direct it pass the keeper.
Despite the dominance Sunderland were still attempting to get an equaliser and came very close to making an opening after a fantastic pass by Cattermole out to Larsson, he played a first time pass into the box that was thankfully this time cleared by United. Sunderland had their tails up and were suddenly on the ball. David Moyes looked to sure the defence up and add some extra height by bringing on Chris Smalling on for Rafael. United couldn’t get hold of the ball and seemed to be panicking with rushed clearances. Moyes was in his technical area urging our players to keep the ball, a win in this match after coming from behind was vital.
RVP missed a golden chance to wrap the game up after being put through on goal by Valencia. He tried to put it into the near post with the outside of his left foot but made a mess of it and scuffed it wide. Will that come back to haunt us in the 5 minutes of stoppage time? United were doing the best to keep the ball but you always know there is going to be one final chance for either side that may change the game. Sunderland won a corner in the 94th minute that even the goalkeeper Westwood came forward for. De Gea missed his punch but managed to kick the ball half clear. Sunderland still had time for another corner that United managed to clear. Cleverley had the ball at his feet and for some reason didn’t shoot whilst the Sunderland keeper was sprinting back to his goal. The full time whistle came and United recorded a much needed victory in the league. Crisis over? 9th place wouldn’t suggest that, plenty more work to do. The hero of the match is my man of the match. However, David De Gea need massive credit for keeping us in the game at 1-0 down with an unbelievable save.
Man of the Match: Adnan Januzaj.