[Champions League] Shakhtar Donetsk 1-1 Manchester United
Shakhtar: Taison (76)
ManUtd: Danny Welbeck (18)
Manchester United earned a creditable 1-1 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk to stay top of Group A as Danny Welbeck's opener was cancelled out by Brazilian ace Taison.
United's long spells of possession drew whistles from the partisan home crowd but it was a measure of an authoritative performance from David Moyes' team. Robin van Persie had gone closest to scoring when curling over the bar before Welbeck struck in the 18th minute. Marouane Fellaini exchanged passes with Antonio Valencia but his near-post cross carried little danger until Yaroslav Rakitskiy made a hash of his clearance. Welbeck pounced in ruthless fashion for his third United goal of the season, sweeping past Andriy Pyatov.
Alex Texeira felt he should have had a penalty after a challenge by Tom Cleverley in the box and he also drew a save from David De Gea but the Reds remained a threat with Nemanja Vidic unable to connect properly with Chris Smalling's header from a van Persie corner.
Shakhtar started the second half well but Rakitskiy was off target with a free-kick when attempting to atone for his error and De Gea bravely held a driven cross amid a forest of legs. Although United were rarely under any sustained threat, Taison blasted an unstoppable equaliser high into De Gea's net with 14 minutes left when the ball broke loose inside the box. De Gea was only extended when a deflection off Smalling caused concern as United regained composure swiftly to earn a valuable point.
The match United looked comfortable for long periods after Danny Welbeck's 18th-minute strike but were pegged back by a thumping finish by Taison, one of Shakhtar's many Brazilians. This was a typically polished away display in Europe by experienced campaigners who handled the noisy environment well. There may have been few chances - the visitors managed just two shots on target in the 90 minutes - but this was a job well done.
Goals There was no great pace in the move that led to Welbeck's strike. Antonio Valencia opted to pass back to Fellaini and the Belgian's pass into the danger zone only got through because of Yaroslav Rakitskiy's costly error. Welbeck did not stand on ceremony and finished clinically. The equaliser was a little similar as Rakitskiy's cross came off Nemanja Vidic and into the path of Taison, who lashed in.
Star men This was a solid team performance and the perfect response to Saturday's disappointment against West Brom. Michael Carrick shielded the defence with the usual minimum amount of fuss but maximum efficiency, while Patrice Evra and Rafael were stout on the flanks. Danny Welbeck deserved his goal for a selfless performance.
Subplot With United beaten three times already in the Barclays Premier League, those hoping to sense cracks in the empire at European leavel as well will have been disappointed. When surprise news of the absence of Wayne Rooney, the team's most in-form player, broke before kick-off, it became clear this would become a real test of character for David Moyes' men. Ryan Giggs has made more Champions League appearances than anybody else (145) after coming off the bench and received some generous applause.
The opposition Shakhtar were bright and busy but perhaps lacked some of the real spark provided last term by Fernandinho and William. Douglas Costa looked graceful in possession and it's obvious that the fans give the side their full backing at all times which aided their comeback.
Move of the match Van Persie's beautifully-cushioned touch allowed Rafael to rampage down the right with real menace in the second half. The Brazilian's pass into the box was taken on by van Persie but Rakitskiy got in the way of the shot.
In the stands United's pocket of fans high up in the Gods did their best to be heard above the din emitting from a sea of orange and black around the Donbass Arena. The most vociferous of the local contingent raised a smile when bravely reverting to bare chests en masse after the equaliser.