|Passes (% accurate)||32/37 (86%)|
|Shots (on target)||6 (3)|
|Dribbles (successful)||6 (2)|
With an hour gone of the game away at Sunderland, David Moyes was staring at what would have been another excruciating defeat that would have left his team in the bottom six of the EPL after seven games. Such a loss would have been unthinkable for United and Moyes, and would have meant that the knives suddenly got a lot sharper for the new boss, but he was rescued by the unlikeliest of sources.
Eighteen-year-old Adnan Januzaj, who is Belgian born but also eligible to play for Kosovo, Albania and Turkey, instantly repaid the faith shown in him by his manager with a hugely impressive all around performance. With his double he became only the second Manchester United player to score twice on his first EPL start for the club and the youngest ever Red Devil to ever score a brace.
Much of the focus on his performance will go on his two fine finishes, but his swashbuckling performance offered much more to get United fans excited that he could be a crucial player for years to come. Trailing 1-0 with much pressure on the team, United at times looked devoid of ideas, all to aware of the importance of winning this game. At times such like this, sometimes having a young player who possesses no fear it just what a team needs.
While he played the majority of the game on the left wing, Januzaj was never stationary, always looking to move around and not making it easy for the opposition. On several occassions he was willing to come inside and shoot, and while this also added some impetus to a sometimes lethargic United attack, it also dragged opposition players inside with him, creating acres of space for the ever willing Patrice Evra to power forward.
This exact tactic was how the first goal came about. Januzaj once again vacated the left wing and got on the ball in the middle of the pitch, however instead of shooting he sprayed the ball out wide to his left back. Seconds later and Evra had returned the favour, cutting the ball back for Januzaj who finished clinically with his right foot, displaying his proficiency with both feet.
While it would be foolish to compare him to a young Cristiano Ronaldo, one area that Januzaj does seem stronger is in his work-rate. On several occasions the young midfielder worked back to assist his defence, showing that there is substance to go along with his style. Noticeably he also came short to pick up the ball and start attacks on a number of occasions (a la Paul Scholes), giving us a glimpse of his impressive all around game.
The winning goal was a first time volley that showed tremendous technique, and the glint of determination in his managers eye demonstrated to the world just what a vital goal it could turn out to be in the context of the season, and in Moyes’s reign.
It’s been awhile since we’ve said this but United seem to have unearthed another top class academy player. For a player, on his league debut, to be able to dribble, play long passes, come short to start attacks and finish well is quite rare indeed. Januzaj played the game without fear and looked a million times better than Ashley Young has in the last year. After seeing former United graduate Ravel Morrison leave the club at the end of his contract, fans will be hoping that the promising Januzaj is locked into a new deal, and quick!