Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Shakhtar Donetsk 1-1 Manchester United: Danny Welbeck secures a hard-earned point to give Moyes heart

Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini, left, and Shaktar Donetsk's Yaroslav Rakitskiy battle for the ball during their Champions League Group A soccer match at Donbass Arena Stadium in Donetsk, Ukraine, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini, left, and Shaktar Donetsk's Yaroslav Rakitskiy battle for the ball during their Champions League Group A soccer match at Donbass Arena Stadium in Donetsk, Ukraine, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini, front, and Shaktar Donetsk's Tomas Hubschman battle for the ball during their Champions League Group A soccer match at Donbass Arena Stadium in Donetsk, Ukraine, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Manchester United's Danny Welbeck, front, and Shaktar Donetsk's Darijo Srna battle for the ball during their Champions League Group A soccer match at Donbass Arena Stadium in Donetsk, Ukraine, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

David Moyes was denied a morale-boosting Champions League win in Donetsk tonight - but still left the Donbass Arena as the first manager of an English team to nick a point from a trip to Shakhtar in this competition.

Moyes can do with all the little snippets of positivity he can lay his hands on just now.

And, with Arsenal (twice), Tottenham and, last season, Chelsea all beaten here, Moyes can look back with some satisfaction on a result which consolidates a decent start to Group A.

Yet the Scot may also lament the fact his side got within 15 minutes of what would have been an impressive victory.

Scorer of United's last away goal in the competition, against Real Madrid, Welbeck was on the mark again, steering home after Yaroslav Rakitskiy had made a hash of clearing Marouane Fellaini's low cross.

It was Welbeck's third goal of the campaign, one more than he managed in the whole of last season, and for a good while afterwards seemed set to prove the difference.

But Shakhtar continued to press and when Taison thrashed home an impressive effort, United needed all their battling qualities to gain the draw their industry deserved.

Beleaguered on the home front, confident in foreign lands.

If Moyes has had his struggles trying to work out the merits of his United players, the club's supporters are equally baffled as to the balance of their season as a whole.

Currently in the wrong half of the Premier League table after three defeats in their opening six games, their worst start since 1989, the backdrop to a trip to Donetsk was as bleak as the weather in this mining city.

Until Juventus came to the Donbass Arena and won in December, Shakhtar had pieced together an impressive 49-game unbeaten run on home soil.

So, after the 10 days he has endured, to reach half-time a goal up and with his defence holding reasonably firm, Moyes had every right to regard it as some kind of success.

United were more impressive for the fact Wayne Rooney was missing after suffering a shin injury in training before he had even left England which had swollen up overnight.

The visitors were not entirely perfect.

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 Fellaini's cross.

The England striker needed no second invitation though and drilled his first-time finish into the bottom corner.

Shakhtar dominated possession for long periods thereafter.

However, 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 a low cross into the area which David de Gea, one of only two survivors from Saturday's home defeat by West Brom, got down bravely to smother.

It was also Taison who belted a free-kick into the wall after Vidic had been booked for upending Luiz Adriano.

The introduction of Ryan Giggs for a record 145th Champions League appearance - including qualifiers - was supposed to shore United's defence up for the final assault.

Instead, it was followed within minutes by Shakhtar's 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 they were never in serious danger of being overhauled.

Hard-earned point pleases Welbeck

Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck was pleased to come away from Shakhtar Donetsk with a hard-earned point from a 1-1 draw.

Welbeck scored the opener in United's second Champions League Group A match to give the visitors hope of becoming the only English team to beat the Ukrainian side at the Donbass Arena.

The Red Devils held on until the 76th minute before Vyacheslav Shevchuk grabbed an equaliser.

It denied David Moyes a much-needed three points after a very forgettable start to their Barclays Premier League campaign, yet Welbeck was content to take a share of the spoils.

"I think in the end it was a decent result," said the England international on Sky Sports 4.

"I don't think many teams come here and get them three points and today we would have liked to have got them three points but it wasn't to be.

"I think four points from the first two games is alright, especially considering coming away to Shakhtar and getting the draw.

"We're a bit disappointed, we're Manchester United and we want to win every single game but coming here and getting the point, you've got to be satisfied with it."

He added: "Things aren't going as well as we'd have liked it to in the Premier League but what we've got to do is just gather together and concentrate on our next game and not look too far into the future."

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