Manchester United v Shakhtar Donetsk –
Final Score/Result: Man United 1-0 Shakhtar
Man Of The Match: Phil Jones
Manchester United tops group A as Phil Jones’ second half strike proves to be the winner against Shakhtar Donetsk.
Manchester United needed a win to ensure their place at the top of the group, while Shakhtar needed to better Bayer Leverkusen’s result against Real Sociedad. The German club managed to grab a narrow win in Spain, and Shakhtar had to be contained with a place in the Europa League. For David Moyes, this was a much needed win after a run of poor results in the league. This will restore some belief in this squad as they prepare to face Aston Villa in the weekend.
Manchester United failed to get a grip on the game and their midfield was easily bypassed by Shakhtar. The Ukrainian side pressed hard and didn’t allow the opponent’s midfielder any time or space on the ball. Moyes made a lot of changes and provided rare starts to Ashley Young and Ryan Giggs. When the away side did manage to create some openings in attack, they were let down by poor finishing. Ashley Young in particular missed a lot of golden opportunities and failed to grab this chance to make a mark. Shakhtar looked dangerous in attack as well and were very direct in possession. The likes of Taison, Teixeira and Costa ran at the United’s defence at every opportunity and exploited the lack of pace in Rio Ferdinand. Teixeira missed two glorious opportunities to provide the lead to the home side.
David Moyes made two changes in the second half and brought on Robin van Persie and Tom Cleverley in place of Ashley Young and Ryan Giggs. This changed the dynamics of the game and the home side looked more incisive and threatening in attack. Finally Manchester United got the lead in the 67th minute of the match as Phil Jones, who volleyed home from close range. Wayne Rooney’s corner from the right was attacked by Jonny Evans at the near post, but he failed to make any contact, the ball eventually reached Jones, who was left unmarked in the box. The England international took the chance with aplomb and this proved to be the winner in the end.
David Moyes was pleased with the result and the fact that his side managed to top the group. He was critical of the poor performance in the first half, but insisted that his side improved a lot in the second half.
“We got to the top of the group and that’s what we wanted. We didn’t play well in the first half, but just before half-time we got better and in the second half we were much better. We gave away too many opportunities in the first period and were fortunate not to be a goal down.“
“United have to try to win a trophy, that’s the job. The teams in this competition are very good and we need to try and get better as the tournament goes on. Last year people were surprised when Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern München got to the final, with no Spanish teams left. It is a tough competition, a tough competition for us, but we’ll take each game as it comes.”
“The reception I got from the fans on day one was incredible. I don’t think that’s going to change. A manager has left after 27 years in charge, it’s going to take time to change.” – The Manchester United manager told the press.
Manchester United v Shakhtar Donetsk – Statistics
Phil Jones was undoubtedly the best Manchester United player on the pitch last night. The 21-year-old has been played in the midfield of late, following the injury to Carrick, and he has done a good job in this role so far. Even in the first half when the team was out-pressed and out-passed by Shakhtar, Jones’ energy and determination was crucial for United. He took his goal wonderfully well and will now look to deliver consistently in order to fulfill the potential that he has. The above heat-map depicts his movement and positioning on the pitch against Shakhtar.