Manchester United earned a 1-1 draw at the Donbass Arena, navigating their most difficult group stage match with aplomb. Having neutralised Shakhtar Donetsk for much of the match, they'll be disappointed to have left Ukraine with only a point, but considering the damage Shakhtar have done to Premier League teams in the past, this was a fine result.
The first major incident of the match was a penalty shout. After a period of Shakhtar pressure, Tom Cleverley lunged in at Alex Teixeira in the box, making solid contact with the Brazilian's ankle without getting anywhere very near the ball. Astonishingly, the hosts' appeals were denied, and United escaped.
They'd make good use of their reprieve, and for the first time began to impose themselves. Marouane Fellaini had an excellent first half, and would have put Danny Welbeck through on goal had the striker's touch not abandoned him, but that combination ended up working wonders just minutes later. From a throw-in, Fellaini wormed his way to the byline and fired in a low cross. Yaroslav Rakitsky got down in front of the ball but couldn't clear, and Welbeck finished past a stranded Andriy Pyatov.
United kept up the pressure for a while against an energetic Shakhtar, but they couldn't keep it up and slowly the hosts began to turn the match around. But for all of their industry, for much of the match the Ukrainians failed to seriously threaten David de Gea's goal, although they did threaten his person in an series of collisions that saw Alex Teixeira leave a boot in on the keeper and Patrice Evra nearly meet his end in the form of a goalpost.
And then, in the 76th minute, there came a breakthrough. Rakitsky, who'd already made up for his earlier error by blocking a goalbound shot from Robin van Persie, was the architect, surging forward and tying up the visitors defence. Eventually, the ball broke loose, and the first to react was Taison, who blistered a shot over de Gea to make it 1-1.
The goal brought even more pressure from Shakhtar, who suddenly looked capable -- even likely -- of winning, and it took a remarkable save from de Gea to prevent Taison's deflected cross finding the back of the net. But the hosts couldn't make a further breakthrough, and the match would end 1-1. David Moyes would have taken the point before the match; one has to imagine he's fairly pleased with how it turned out.
Shakhtar Donetsk starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Andriy Pyatov; Viacheslav Shevchuk, Yaroslav Rakitskiy, Olexandr Kucher, Darijo Srna; Tomas Hubschman, Fernando (Ilsinho 84'); Douglas Costa, Alex Teixeira, Taison (Bernard 90'); Luiz Adriano (Facundo Ferreyra 90').
Goals: Taison 76'.
Manchester United starting lineup (4-4-1-1): David de Gea; Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling, Rafael; Danny Welbeck (Phil Jones 90'), Tom Cleverley, Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia; Marouane Fellaini (Ryan Giggs 66'); Robin van Persie.
Goals: Welbeck 18'.