Match Analysis: Manchester United 1-0 Shakhtar Donetsk

Phil Jones of Manchester United celebrates scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Manchester United and Shakhtar Donetsk on December 10, 2013
© Getty Images
Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at Manchester United's 1-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League this evening.

Manchester United eliminated Shakhtar Donetsk from the Champions League and ensured that they would qualify as group leaders with a 1-0 win over the Ukrainian side at Old Trafford this evening.

Phil Jones got the only goal of the game with just over 20 minutes remaining when he lashed Robin van Persie's corner past Andriy Pyatov on the half-volley.

Here, Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at an intriguing 90 minutes of European football at Old Trafford.

Match statistics:

Manchester United:
Shots 10
On target 2
Possession 55%
Corners 7
Fouls 9

Shakhtar Donetsk:
Shots 17
On target 3
Possession 45%
Corners 6
Fouls 14

Was the result fair?

A draw would have been the fairest result this evening, but that still wouldn't have saved Shakhtar from elimination. The visitors ran riot at times in the first half and United had no answer for the attacking flair provided by Shakhtar's skilful Brazilians. The hosts did come back into it a bit at the end of the half but they would have gone into the break happy that they were still level. The second half started in a similar vein but United soon took control and were in the ascendancy when they got their goal, before comfortably seeing out the rest of the match. In terms of the general balance of play, Shakhtar just about had the best of it over the whole 90 minutes, but it was the hosts who created the best chances so a share of the spoils would have been fair.

Man Utd's performance

They did what they needed to do, but their performance won't have anyone proclaiming that the United of old are back. Their first half showing was particularly poor as they lacked passion, desire and composure, coming off second best to Shakhtar in almost every area of the pitch. They gave the ball away far too often and showed no signs of wanting to bounce back from two consecutive home league defeats. The second half looked to be going a similar way when the visitors hit the post early on, but United soon found their feet and, while it was still far from their best, they began to deal with Shakhtar's attacking threats and create more chances of their own at the other end. David Moyes knows that they will have to drastically improve to get much further in the competition, but after two defeats in a row a win was always going to be the most important thing tonight.

Shakhtar Donetsk's performance

They had plenty of chances to break the deadlock in the first half but, for all of their dominance, they lacked a killer touch this evening. Some of the attacking movement between their Brazilian stars in the first half was a joy to behold, and often the United defenders seemed to be as much spectators as the 75,000 in attendance. However, they were unable to take advantage of that and allowed United back into the match in the second half. Once the hosts took the lead Shakhtar never really looked like getting back into the game, and in the end they exited the competition with a bit of a whimper.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Alex Teixeira: It was very tough to choose the man of the match for this evening's game as no player stood head and shoulders above the rest for the entire 90 minutes. Teixeira gets the award for his role in the first 45 minutes, when he and Douglas Costa in particular terrorised the United defence and made the visitors look more like the home side on the night. He didn't have much of an impact on the second half, but his performance in the opening 45 minutes was good enough to warrant this.

Biggest gaffe

It could go to any of the times that United gave the ball away in dangerous areas in the first half, but instead Ashley Young gets the dubious award for his miss late in the opening period. He was slipped in by Rooney and, while his first touch was good enough, his second was sliced horribly wide when he should have at least hit the target. It didn't prove to be costly for the hosts, but it is a moment that Young won't want to be reminded of.

Referee performance

Milorad Mazic had a quiet game, which is always a good sign for the referee. He had no major decisions to make and didn't produce the yellow card too often, only booking a player when they actually deserved it. Good, solid performance from the Serbian.

What next?

Man Utd: United will look to end a four-game winless streak in the Premier League when they travel to face Aston Villa on Sunday.

Shakhtar: Shakhtar have no more domestic football until March due to their winter break so will be awaiting the draw for the next round of the Europa League for news of their first opponents of 2014.

Phil Jones of Manchester United crosses the ball during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Manchester United and Shakhtar Donetsk at Old Trafford on December 10, 2013
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