De Gea saves United blushes
Januzaj brace sees off Sunderland
Adnan Januzaj of Manchester United scores his team’s second goal against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday. Photograp: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Sunderland 1 Manchester United 2
During an opening period in which United’s defending was the stuff of comic cuts – as highlighted by Nemanja Vidic’s error that enabled Craig Gardner to open the scoring – only David De Gea prevented Sunderland from going two in front.
The Spaniard threw himself to his right to bat away a netbound header from Emanuele Giaccherini. It was an outstanding piece of goalkeeping, with Peter Schmeichel’s assessment that De Gea had produced one of the finest saves he had seen especially notable.
“It is one of the best I have ever seen as well,” said manager David Moyes. “It was incredible . . . It’s an amazing save, it really is. And that was a turning point. I didn’t think we deserved to be losing but had we gone 2-0 down then it would have been a mountain to climb . . . He is improving all the time. You can see he has great agility and he needed it to make that save.
“I have been really impressed by his athleticism and he is still a young goalkeeper. I thought the old manager was brave to bring a young goalkeeper in; it is actually hard to bring in young goalkeepers and young centre-halves. Hopefully David will feel the benefit of that in the years to come.”
Moyes bridled when it was put to him that De Gea’s moment could have changed the landscape of United’s entire season, rather than just this match.
“I don’t think so. Not my landscape,” said the Scot. The reality suggests otherwise. Had United lost on Wearside for the first time on league business since 1997 – and the first time at this venue – the international break would have been interspersed with further discord towards Moyes’s performance in his new job. The combined efforts of De Gea and Adam Januzaj prevented United from slipping to a third league defeat in a row.
Sunderland, instead, are the ones who are not short of troubles. They look set to make a permanent managerial appointment at the start of this week with owner Ellis Short faced with the unenviable decision of whether to retain faith in Kevin Ball or risk an alternative and costly appointment which may result in relegation in any case.
Former Anderlecht player
Januzaj’s two second-half goals had been preceded by an outrageous dive that rightly brought the teenager a yellow card. Debate now centres on which nation the former Anderlecht player will pledge his allegiance. A handful, including England, hold out hope.
Moyes is due credit for his promotion of Januzaj’s talents. Yet two significant points from the win will not be lost on the United manager. He cannot, and should not have to, rely on an 18-year-old for an entire season. United’s defensive shoddiness would also have been more readily punished by superior opposition.
In their past seven Premier League matches away from home, United have conceded 15 goals. On this occasion, Rooney was industrious rather than eye-catching. The forward spent the closing minutes hobbling, having aggravated what Moyes explained was an existing problem.
“Wayne had a real bad shin injury,” added Moyes. “He had a clash of shins with Danny Welbeck in training before we went to Donetsk. He has quite a bit of fluid in the side of his shin from the bruising. But he ran a thousand miles today for us, he was terrific in that manner. He was a great team player for us.”
United’s manager said he was “sure” Rooney would be fit to appear for England on Friday. “He wants to play for his country and he is in good form.”
Moyes is suitably grateful for that.
SUNDERLAND: Westwood,Celustka,O’Shea,Roberge,Colback, Gardner (Larsson 56),Cattermole,Ki (Wickham 74),Giaccherini, Altidore,Johnson (Ji 64). Subs Not Used: Cabral,Cuellar,Mannone,Borini. Booked: Gardner,O’Shea. Goals: Gardner 5.
MAN UTD: De Gea,Rafael Da Silva (Smalling 86),Jones,Vidic,Evra, Carrick,Cleverley,Nani (Welbeck 77),Rooney, Januzaj (Valencia 77),van Persie. Subs Not Used: Giggs,Lindegaard,Hernandez,Kagawa. Booked: Rooney,Januzaj,Vidic,Rafael Da Silva. Goals: Januzaj 55,61. Att: 45,426 Ref: Chris Foy (Merseyside).