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Sunderland scare: Januzaj revives United

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* As Liverpool go top

LONDON – Teenage starlet Adnan Januzaj scored twice as Manchester United came from behind to win 2-1 at Sunderland on Saturday and revive their flagging Premier League title defence.

The champions had made their worst start to a season since 1989 and were set on course for a third consecutive defeat when Craig Gardner scored an early goal for bottom club Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

However, on his first league start for the club, 18-year-old Januzaj scored two fine goals in the space of seven minutes early in the second half to snatch victory and send United up to ninth place in the table.

United manager David Moyes has been bullish about his ability to turn United’s season around, but he saw Gardner give Sunderland a fifth-minute lead after Nemanja Vidic fluffed an attempted clearance.

The visitors were then indebted to goalkeeper David de Gea for a breath-taking full-stretch save to touch away a header from Emanuele Giaccherini, who also blazed wastefully over on the verge of half-time.

United had struggled to cope with their hosts’ furious work rate, but they levelled in the 55th minute when Januzaj met Patrice Evra’s drilled cross with a measured side-foot finish that flashed into the net.

The Belgian youngster’s work was not finished, and minutes later he claimed a glorious winner, thumping a sweet left-foot volley into the bottom-right corner after Nani’s cross was headed into the air by United old boy John O’Shea.

Robin van Persie spurned a late chance to make the game safe, but Sunderland, for whom caretaker manager Kevin Ball remains at the helm, could not find an equaliser.

Liverpool returned to the top of the table after in-form strike duo Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge both found the net in a 3-1 win at home to Crystal Palace.

David Moyes
David Moyes

Suarez was making his first Anfield appearance since completing a 10-game ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic last season and with new-born son Benjamin in attendance, he broke the deadlock in the 14th minute.

The goal showcased the Uruguayan’s flair for improvisation, as he hooked the ball into the net from a prone position after slipping as he shaped to shoot.

Top scorer Sturridge added a second three minutes later, turning Damien Delaney inside out before lashing home his fifth league goal of the season.

Captain Steven Gerrard made it 3-0 with a 38th-minute penalty, taking his tally of Premier League goals to 99, before substitute Dwight Gayle replied for the visitors with a late glancing header.

Victory took Brendan Rodgers’s side a point clear of Arsenal, who can reclaim top spot if they avoid defeat at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

Liverpool manager Rodgers heralded strike duo Suarez and Sturridge, saying: “They were exceptional today. Their combination play was outstanding and they are right up there with the best in this league.”

Earlier, Manchester City bounced back from defeats by Aston Villa and Bayern Munich to end Everton’s unbeaten start to the season with a 3-1 win at the Etihad Stadium.

Everton took a 16th-minute lead through on-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, but Alvaro Negredo equalised immediately from Yaya Toure’s fine reverse pass.

City lost captain Vincent Kompany to injury, but Sergio Aguero put the hosts ahead just before the interval.

A foul by Seamus Coleman on Pablo Zabaleta gave Aguero a chance to extend City’s lead from the penalty spot in the 69th minute and although Tim Howard turned his shot onto the post, the ball bounced against the American goalkeeper and into the net for an own goal.

“Equalising immediately was important, but more important was the character of the team, playing against Everton — the only unbeaten team in the league,” said City manager Manuel Pellegrini.

“After a defeat (by Bayern) on Wednesday, it was important for me to see how the players reacted.”

Loic Remy scored twice in the space of eight first-half minutes as Newcastle United claimed a first win in three games with a 2-1 victory at Cardiff City, who replied through Peter Odemwingie.

Fulham climbed out of the relegation zone after a neat 83rd-minute strike from Darren Bent secured a 1-0 win at home to Stoke City, while Aston Villa were held to a 0-0 draw at Hull City.

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