ADNAN Januzaj’s second half double ruined managerless Sunderland’s hopes of a first Premier League win, to keep the Black Cats rooted to the foot of the table.
Craig Gardner’s early strike gave Sunderland a thoroughly deserved half-time advantage against the reigning Premier League champions and the lead could have been more handsome.
Emanuele Giaccherini was denied by a magnificent save from David De Gea before the Italian spurned another golden opportunity from eight yards out.
But 18-year-old Januzaj, making his first Premier League start, drew Manchester United level 10 minutes after the restart and then scored a spectacular second on the volley to inflict Sunderland’s sixth defeat in seven league games.
Summer signings Ondrej Celustka and Valentin Roberge were both included in the Sunderland starting XI, as caretaker boss Kevin Ball changed the side which he had used for his two previous games in charge.
Celustka came in at right-back at the expense of Seb Larsson - with Craig Gardner moving into midfield - while Roberge replaced Carlos Cuellar alongside John O’Shea.
Manchester United boss David Moyes made four changes from the midweek Champions League draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Wayne Rooney, Adnan Januzaj, Phil Jones and Nani were included at the expense of Chris Smalling, Marouane Fellaini, Danny Welbeck and Antonio Valencia.
Sunderland got off to a dream start after getting their noses in front in the fifth minute.
Emanuele Giaccherini’s cross from the right cannoned off Phil Jones and Nemanja Vidic into the path of Gardner who rifled the ball into the far bottom corner.
Two minutes later, Nani tried his luck with a dipping shot from 25 yards which bounced just past the post.
United ahad a major let-off in the eighth minute after Gardner caught Jones on the ball.
The midfielder burst down the left-hand side of the area, but dithered in his decision-making, allowing Jones to race back and intercept.
Adnan Januzaj went close in the 17th minute when he controlled slickly just outside the D before firing a low right-footed shot a yard past the post.
Nani spurned a golden opportunity to draw United level three minutes later after Patrice Evra’s cross from the left sailed over Jack Colback’s head to the Portugese winger eight yards out.
But despite having space to unleash his volley back across goal, Nani directed it wide of the far post.
A magnificent save from David De Gea denied Sunderland a second in the 34th minute.
At the end of a sweeping move, Giaccherini met Adam Johnson’s cross from the left with a pinpoint header back across goal.
But De Gea managed to readjust and diving full-length to his right, tipped it around the post.
Four minutes before the interval, Keiren Westwood pushed Nani’s shot behind after he let fly with an angled drive from the right-hand side of the area.
Two minutes later, Sunderland had another opportunity to double their advantage after Johnson bundled his way down the left-hand side of the area and pulled the ball back for Giaccherini.
But from eight yards out, the Italian international couldn’t get over the ball and skied his effort over the top.
HALF-TIME Sunderland 1 Manchester United 0
In the 55th minute, Sunderland were made to pay for their missed chances as Januzaj drew the champions level.
The Belgian picked out Evra down the left and then raced onto the return ball, 15 yards out, before slotting it precisely into the corner past a static Westwood.
Evra almost set up another for United in the 58th minute when he picked out van Persie with a low cross that the Dutchman hit first time, only for Westwood to gather well low to his right.
Lightning did strike twice in the 61st minute though as Januzaj grabbed his second in spectacular fashion.
Nani’s cross from the right was headed clear by John O’Shea, but only as far as Januzaj on the left-hand side of the area who struck a stunning first-time volley into the far corner.
Rafael tried his luck from 25 yards in the 81st minute, but his left-footed effort was blocked low to his right by Westwood.
With a minute to go, van Persie spurned the chance to seal United’s victory when he directed Antonio Valencia’s through-ball wide of the post.
FULL-TIME Sunderland 1 Manchester United 2
SUNDERLAND: Westwood, Celustka, O’Shea, Roberge, Colback, Johnson (Ji 64), Gardner (Larsson 56), Cattermole, Ki (Wickham 74), Giaccherini, Altidore. Subs not used: Mannone, Cabral, Cuellar, Borini. Booked: Gardner (53), O’Shea (81)
MANCHESTER UNITED: De Gea, Rafael (Smalling 86), Vidic, Jones, Evra, Januzaj (Valencia 77), Carrick, Cleverley, Nani (Welbeck 77), Rooney, van Persie. Subs not used: Lindegaard, Giggs, Kagawa, Hernandez. Booked: Rooney (42), Januzaj (48), Vidic (70), Rafael (78)
Attendance: 45,426* Don’t miss your value-for-money Football Echo – the best buy of the weekend – it’s out tomorrow morning.