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Dublin: 18 °C Monday 25 May, 2020


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THE HEAT WAS on David Moyes as he sought to climb the league table with a stuttering Manchester United.

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Sunderland 1 — 2 Manchester United

Welcome along to our coverage of Manchester United’s ongoing search for league form. We’ll have the full team news for you soon but here’s a taster: Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney will start up front together.

Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael, Jones, Vidic, Evra; Carrick, Cleverley, Nani, Januzaj; Rooney, van Persie.

Sunderland: Westwood, Celustka, Colback, O’Shea, Roberge, Cattermole, Ki, Gardner, Johnson, Giaccherini, Altidore.

Cummins says it was “hurtful” for some members that their role in the Seanad was reduced to an argument of cost during the campaign.

A first league start for promising Belgian teenager Adnan Januzaj.

What do you make of the line-ups?

In other-but-related news, Senator Rónán Mullen has confirmed his intention to fight for a seat in Europe, announcing that he will be a candidate in the Midlands-North-West constituency next year.

Here’s what he told us earlier.

David Moyes has named an outrageously attacking bench, just in case. Lindergaard and Smalling to cover goalkeeping/defensive crises. Hernandez, Welbeck, Valencia, Kagawa and Giggs to look after attacking matters if the champions fall behind.

Borini, Wickham and Larsson are the attacking threats on the Black Cats’ bench. Vito Mannone is Keiren Westwood’s goalkeeping back-up.

David Moyes has told Sky Sports that he is hoping to get Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie “firing”. He adds, with understated, gritted teeth charm, that he is looking for a better performance than last week [the 2 -- 1 loss to West Brom]. “That’s for sure,” he adds. Reassuring stuff there.

Enda Kenny also says he welcomes the result in the Court of Appeal referendum, which looks like it will be a resounding Yes.

The current position nationally is a 65.65 per cent Yes vote versus a 34.35 per cent No vote.

Defending his lack of campaigning on the Seanad Referendum, Kenny described it as a people’s issue and not a government party issue.

“I think it is a bit early to give any detail on how one might reflect in an effective way in this matter,” he added when asked about any possible reforms of the Seanad.

“The process of change in politics is something we are going to continue with.”

He repeats the line about reflecting and assessing how best to use the senate.

“Sometimes in politics, you get a wallop in the electoral process,” continues Kenny when asked if the defeat is a black mark on his leadership.

But he believes there is a virtue in following through with his promise to ask this question of the people.


Altidore chases down a through ball but Vidic, having given up a few yards, eventually clears the danger. Van Persie then concedes a soft free after Januzaj gives up possession.


GOAL: Sunderland 1 — 0 Manchester United (Gardner ’4)

What a calamity for United. Giaccherini beats Evra and whips a ball in. Jones kicks his clearance straight at Vidic, 10 yards away, and the ball drops to Garnder who fires low and to De Gea’s left.

Nani has United’s first shot on goal but his fizzer is a yard wide of Westwood’s righthand post.

Counting in the Court of Appeal continues, even though the Taoiseach has already called the result.

Just five official results in, all floating around the 65/35 mark in favour of setting up a new court. Still not sure what that will mean? Here’s our explainer.

So close to 2 — 0 as Sunderland pile forward. They have a three-on-one but Gardner was looking for Altidore and Jones got back to make a last-ditch tackle.

Nani lofts a ball into the box and Rooney outjumps O’Shea but his nod down to van Persie is too close to Westwood. Nani then earns his side a corner. 11 minutes gone.

That corner was comfortably dealt with. Westwood then makes a wonder save from Rooney, from three yards out, but play is called back for an offside against Evra.

Sunderland are more than happy to let the United defence pass the ball around unfettered and drop 10 men behind the ball. United fans remain in good voice, singing their ‘Come on David Moyes’ version of the Slade song.

Januzaj shows great skill on the edge of the Sunderland box but his shot flies two yards wide.

Vidic clatters into Altidore to concede a free kick just 20 yards from goal and centrally placed. Carrick, on the end of the wall, takes the sting out of Giacherrini’s free kick.

Bad, bad miss from an unmarked Nani on the back post. Evra whipped in a great ball from the left flank and it dropped perfectly for the winger, who tried to sidefoot it home. Placement over power and he gets his placement all wrong.

Altidore, meanwhile, is making a mug out of Vidic.

Rafael messes up a simple one-two with van Persie to scupper another move. Januzaj, moments before, had a soft shot on target saved. Worrying that an 18-year-old is providing the only spark for United. Saying that, there is some collection of attacking talent riding the pine.

Westwood gets a strong fist to a van Persie corner and danger is averted yet again. Here’s a fact for you — United have not lost three straight Premier League games for 12 seasons.

De Gea adds to the sense of shoddy desperation with a sand wedge clearance from a back pass. He clears at the second time of asking but Sunderland pile forward again.

AMAZING SAVE from De Gea keeps it at 1 — 0 as he dives at full stretch to keep out a Giaccherini header. 34 minutes on the clock and Januzaj earns a free kick 30 yards from the Black Cats goal. United circa 2013 love a setpiece.

I’ll see if I can track down footage of that De Gea save because, if United get back into this game [a big if], that could be the season’s turning point.

Van Persie tries to square for Rooney in the six hard box but O’Shea hacks clear.

United have swapped Januzaj to the right wing and, I must say, he loves taking pot-shots. His latest is blocked down. Westwood saves from Nani, from an acute angle. Another corner comes in, then out. Five minutes left in the half and Rooney takes a yellow for the team/hacks Gardner down on halfway.

Adam Johnson tears the United backline asunder after ghosting past Nani. He commits four navy shirts before squaring to Giaccherini, who wallops the ball four storeys high.

Rooney’s corner — United’s fourth — is far too close for Westwood and he is unhindered as he claims at the back post. Into injury time.

The Carrick-Cleverley double act is looking stale. Van Persie takes control and sets up Nani on the left but the winger’s touch is leaden and Giaccherini gets back to clear.


Do you think United have any hope of winning the league if they lose four of their first seven games?

Poll Results:

Slim but possible (175)
Yes (117)
No chance (88)


No changes from either side but how long before Kagawa or Welbeck are sprung from the bench. Hernandez will only get the last 20/25 minutes, one imagines, if United are still trailing.

Januzaj booked for a dive! More questions heading David Moyes’ way post-match.

No footage surfacing yet but here is a fantastic picture of that first-half save from De Gea.

The United goalkeeper claws away Giaccherini’s header. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

GOAL! Sunderland 1 — 1 Manchester United (Januzaj ’54)

Really cool finish from the United teenager as he uses the defender as a screen and sidefoots to Westwood’s right to equalise.

Evra with the assist there for the equaliser. He raced down the left flank and squared for the Belgian to slot home.

Van Persie is close to putting United ahead but his whipped shot from 15 yards out is straight at Westwood.

GOAL UNITED! Januzaj again!

GOAL: Sunderland 1 — 2 Manchester United (Januzaj ’61)

This lad is something special. Nani’s cross is headed clear to the far side of the box but Januzaj is there waiting. He strikes low, across the ball, and it bullets past a helpless Westwood.

65 minutes on the clock and, all of a sudden, Carrick is running the show and the United fans are singing ‘Who the F(udge) are Man United?’ Amazing what a couple of goals can do.

Tom Cleverley makes his second liveblog appearance this evening as he steals in to stop Giaccherini in his Italian tracks on the edge of the United box. It will be interesting to see if Moyes sticks with his starting XI for as long as possible in his desperate need for three points.

A deserved booking for Vidic as he chops down Altidore inside his own half. He has been troubled by the cumbrous yet effective American all match.

Here is Januzaj stroking home his first:

The Belgian has two goals now. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

75 minutes gone and United seem content to let Sunderland come from their defensive shell. Moyes makes two substitutions as Nani is replaced by Welbeck and Valencia comes on for Januzaj. No hat-trick then.

O’Shea takes a yellow with no complaints after bumping Welbeck to the turf some 35 yards from goal. Into the final 10 minutes here and Rafael has a left-footed shot on goal easily saved by Westwood.

Jones’ diving defensive header cuts out a Giaccherini cross then Rooney clears Larsson’s corner. The Swede gets a second chance but Vidic hacks his squared ball out from the six yard box.

Another game on the bench for 90 minutes for Hernandez and Kagawa. Smalling prepares to come on as Rafael boots clear. It is his last action of the game and he limps off now as the seconds tick away.

A worrying sight but the striker jogs off his ankle niggle and will look to see out the game. Credit: Sky Sports

Robin van Paersie is played through on goal by Valencia and really should score. He strikes with the outside of his right boot — you’ll have to ask him why — and the ball skips wide of Westwood’s lefthand post.

Into injury time here and United are on the verge of their third league win of the season.

Gary Neville gives Januzaj the man-of-the-match award and there should be no complaints. Five minutes of injury time allotted. Two minutes left to play and Smalling concedes a corner. Here comes Westwood.

De Gea v Westwood at that corner and the Spaniard punches clear. Penalty appeals but it hits Rooney’s rear.


United, thanks to Januzaj, are now soaring in the top half of the table. When I type ‘soaring’ I mean ninth. Still, this could be the win that galvanises Moyes’ boys.

What did you make of all that? Have United found a genuine star of the future, nay present, in Adnan Januzaj?

Many thanks for all of your company this evening. I am off to compile a piece on the nerveless steel of United’s new teenage sensation. Be good.

About the author:

Patrick McCarry