Manchester United manager David Moyes’ plea for his side to become ‘harder to play against’ was met last night as the underperforming English champions battled to a 1-1 away draw against Shakhtar Donetsk.
The Scot, whose team were stunned at home on the weekend to West Bromwich Albion and sit 12th in the table, had previously said that United were going to Donetsk with all three points in mind – a feat that has never been achieved by an English team.
However United asserted themselves in the first half-hour in Ukraine allowing Danny Welbeck to score his first European goal of the season after 18 minutes before Taison equalised 14 minutes from time, all in all a good result for Moyes.
“We had to be harder to play against than we have been in recent games and we were tonight,” said Moyes.
“It was a good point in the Champions League coming here. We stood up well and got a good goal early doors. I thought we looked as if we were going to stop them scoring.”
United have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last nine Champions League games and even more worryingly for Moyes his team managed only two shots on target.
However on a night when Ryan Giggs set another record by surpassing Raul’s Champions League appearance tally with his 145th run out in Europe, the manager preferred to concentrate on the positives.
“He was always going to be needed tonight because of his experience,” said Moyes, who labelled Giggs’ record as “incredible.”
United started well, moving the ball about and preventing Shakhtar from exhibiting their traditional passing game.
A slip from Yaroslav Rakitskiy allowed Welbeck to steal in and score his sixth club goal of the season and for the next twenty minutes the visitors kept a hold on the play.
But with no chances being created Shakhtar were able to ease possession back into their favour, while Marouane Fellaini looked increasingly off the pace in midfield.
Even the introduction of the evergreen Giggs did not bring the injection of imagination that United needed, which invited the pressure and allowed Shakhtar to build up some rhythm.
Taison was on hand to draw the hosts level when defender Nemanja Vidic failed to deal with a low Rakitskiy ball into the box and the forward fired past a helpless David De Gea.
With Bayer Leverkusen edging a victory against Real Sociedad and a double-header with the Spanish side coming up, going on this performance, United will have to step up a gear if they are to finish top of Group A.
Image courtesy of MUTV via YouTube, with thanks.