WITH his side currently in the wrong half of the Premier League table after three defeats in their opening six games, their worst start since 1989, a trip to Donetsk looked as bleak as the weather in this mining city for Manchester United manager Davie Moyes.
Shakhtar Donetsk 1-1 Manchester Utd
Scorers: Shakhtar Donetsk - Taison (76); Manchester Utd - Welbeck (18)
Referee: P Kralovec (Cze)
So to reach half-time a goal up and with his defence holding reasonably firm was some kind of success for Moyes.
Tom Cleverley got away with a sliding penalty area challenge on Alex Teixeira which got the faintest of touches to the Shakhtar man, but enough to offer the opportunity of an exaggerated fall, looking for a penalty.
Thankfully for Cleverley, Czech referee Pavel Kralovec was unsympathetic to Teixeira’s plea.
Robin van Persie curled over following a neat control and turn onto Cleverley’s pass before Welbeck put the visitors ahead.
Yaroslav Rakitskiy will not look back on the goal with any fondness, virtually teeing Welbeck up as he tried to intercept a cross. The England striker drilled a first-time finish into the bottom corner.
Shakhtar dominated for long periods thereafter but Nemanja Vidic had one of those nights which confirms his status as a central component of Moyes’ squad. Always in the right place to make a block or decisive intervention, the Serb’s defensive instincts are such that any concerns about his dodgy knees will surely be overlooked when discussions begin over an extension to the contract which expires at the end of the season.
Taison did get past Rafael to fizz in a cross which David de Gea, one of only two survivors from Saturday’s home defeat by West Brom, got down to smother. It was also Taison who belted a free kick into the wall after Vidic fouled Luiz Adriano.
The introduction of Ryan Giggs for a record 145th Champions League appearance – including qualifiers – was supposed to shore up the defence. Instead, it was followed by the equaliser as Vidic could only turn Rakitskiy’s cross into the path of Taison, who blasted home. United creaked a couple of times after that but were never in serious danger. Afterwards, Moyes said: “It was a good point. They’ve got a great record against English teams here.
“The team stood up well tonight, they got a good goal early doors and I thought we looked as if we were going to stop them scoring. We defended very well.
“It’s a point in the Champions League, it doesn’t take us any further just now,” added Moyes.
“You have to win other games if we’re going to progress further in this competition.”
Shakhtar Donetsk: Pyatov, Srna, Kucher, Rakitskiy, Shevchuk, Fernando (Ilsinho 84), Hubschman, Taison (Bernard 90), Teixeira, Costa, Adriano (Ferreyra 89). Subs not used: Kanibolotskiy, Stepanenko, Eduardo, Kryvtsov.
Manchester Utd: De Gea, R Da Silva, Smalling, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Fellaini (Giggs 66), Cleverley, Welbeck (Jones 90), van Persie. Subs not used: Lindegaard, Hernandez, Nani, Young, Kagawa.