Manchester United's Januzaj shoots to score against Sunderland during their English Premier League soccer match at The Stadium of Light in Sunderland

Sunderland 1-2 Manchester United: Adnan Januzaj comes to the rescue (video)


Sunderland’s hopes were dashed once again as Manchester United came from behind to claim all three points. The loss keeps the Black Cats in last place, with just one point from seven matches this season. For United, the win brings much needed relief, pulling the side up to tenth in the table and easing some of the tension etched on David Moyes’ face.

The match got off to a dream start for Sunderland when the hosts took the lead in the fifth minute. Nemanja Vidic, who didn’t exactly have the best match against Shakhtar Donetsk midweek, set Craig Gardner up perfectly. Emanuele Giaccherini, racing up the right, sent a low ball into the United box. Phil Jones attempted to clear, instead sending the ball to Vidic. It bounced off the captain’s standing leg to fall for Gardner, who wasted no time in putting it in the back of David De Gea’s net.

The visitors were put in the uncomfortable position of chasing the game practically from the kickoff. United looked fine going forward, although the goal continued to elude. In the 20th minute, Nani, playing remarkably well, set up Robin van Persie, who managed to put his header wide. Then in the 41st, Nani himself had a go, getting on the end of a ball from Rafael and forcing a fantastic save from Keiren Westwood.

But United continued to look susceptible in defense, and Sunderland very nearly made them pay once more. In the 34th minute, Giaccherini got himself into a dangerous position once more, getting his head on the end of a cross from Adam Johnson, but De Gea pulled off a fine save to keep Sunderland to just one. Just before the halftime whistle, Giaccherini had another chance, again set up by Johnson. The winger cut in from the left and sliced the ball through three United defenders, but Giaccherini’s shot went well high.

The match was turned on its head in the second half, and the source came in the form of unlikely hero Adnan Januzaj. The youngster, just 18 years old, was handed his first start by Moyes, and Januzaj certainly repaid his manager’s faith. He put in the equalizer in the 54th minute, a lovely finish off a ball from Patrice Evra. The onrushing Januzaj used his right foot to sidefoot his shot past Westwood and into the top left corner.

But why stop a dream start with just one goal? Less than ten minutes later, Januzaj bagged himself a brace, sending in the go-ahead goal. This one was nearly a mirror image of the first. This time the ball came from a poor headed clearance on the part of Sunderland, but once again, Januzaj was ready. He used his left foot this time, catching it on the volley, twisting his body and putting this one into the right side of the net.

Sunderland did absolutely everything they could to rescue a point from the match, including bringing Keiren Westwood up for the final two corners of the match. That scenario brought about a fantastic foot race between Tom Cleverly and the Sunderland keeper, but in the end the ball was cut out by Giaccherini. A dramatic finish to a surprisingly dramatic match.

Sunderland Starting XI: Westwood, Celustka, Colback, O’Shea, Roberge, Cattermole, Ki, Gardner, Johnson (Ji 62), Giaccherini, Altidore.

Substitutes: Cabral, Larsson, Wickham, Cuellar, Borini, Mannone

Manchester United Starting XI: De Gea, Rafael, Evra, Vidic, Jones, Carrick, Cleverley, Januzaj (Welbeck 77), Nani (Valencia 77), Rooney, van Persie

Substitutes: Lindegaard, Smalling, Giggs, Kagawa, Hernandez.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.