Shakhtar 1 - 1 Man Utd
Rafael Smalling Vidic Evra
Valencia Carrick Fellaini(Giggs) Welbeck
A draw in Ukraine is a positive result. It was almost the perfect away performance, similar to the ones we thrived on under Fergie when he managed to get his European away tactics right, but the Ukrainians managed to equalise on the 75th minute. Our team wasn't spectacular but almost got the job completely done. This was probably our toughest fixture in this years group stage so a draw, against a side that lost only once in their last 32 games at home, is a decent result. Besides, we're the first English team to get out of Donetsk with a point in the CL. So contrary to what the prophets of doom are evangelizing, this is a good result for us....especially given the final outcome of the other game from our group.
We made a very good start to the game and deservedly took the lead through Danny Welbeck. Our youngster worked ever so hard tonight and helped Evra on numerous occasions. Carrick and Cleverley did well during parts of the game and Fellaini's physical presence was useful. However, the former Everton-boy gave the ball away too often. That is simply not good for a midfielder at this level. Plenty of room for improvement.
The back four were excellent and looked much more secure than the combination of defenders that played on Saturday. This should be our first choice back-line, perhaps, with the inclusion of Evans instead of Smalling. I think Smalling is a decent defender but at this stage I've got more faith in Johnny.
Now, I've defended Moyes quite a few times but I've got absolutely no idea what he was thinking when making the substitution today. Yes, we were probably playing to preserve our 1 goal lead but how on earth can you play a 40 year old instead of Nani or Kagawa. The latter would have been suitable for this game since Shakhtar aren't much of a physical side. I know Giggsy had a record to break but that record could have been broken someday in December, when our place in the next round is a certainty. I hope Moyes doesn't keep reproducing Fergie's mistake of involving Giggs in such matches. No disrespect to Ryan, he's been an excellent servant, but I think his time is up. To be honest, he should have hung his boots a couple of seasons ago.
Sunderland away next. Time to get back on track in the Premier League......before it's too late.