United beats Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 to top group

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 10, 2013 at 5:01 pm •  Published: December 10, 2013

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United rediscovered the winning feeling at Old Trafford by beating Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday to finish top of Group A and eliminate the Ukrainian champions.

Phil Jones' fiercely struck volley in the 67th minute ensured United finished the group stage unbeaten and is more likely to face a weaker team in the draw for the last 16.

It was scrappy and unconvincing, but any win will do for United and its under-pressure manager David Moyes after back-to-back home losses to Everton and Newcastle in the Premier League in the past week.

"I thought there wasn't much difference to the Everton and Newcastle games," said an unsatisfied Moyes, who admitted to getting tough with his players at the break for giving the ball away "terribly" in the first half. "Tonight we got the goal. In those other games, Everton and Newcastle got the goal."

A victory would have guaranteed Shakhtar a place in the knockout stage alongside already-qualified United, but the visitors failed to cap their early dominance with a goal and ended up third in the group behind Bayer Leverkusen, which beat Real Sociedad 1-0.

Shakhtar drops into the Europa League, where it hasn't played for four years.

"The first half and the second half were like two different games," Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu.

It was a morale-boosting win for United, whose successive defeats left the team languishing in ninth place in the Premier League, 13 points off leader Arsenal. Not since October 1962 and the week before the outbreak of the Cuban missile crisis had United gone down to three home defeats in succession, but that gloomy prospect was avoided and Moyes can celebrate a successful start to his first season in the Champions League.

It will get much tougher from here, though.

"I think the club itself needs to be classed as one of the favorites but I think we all know we as a team have to improve if we are to keep progressing in the competition," Moyes said. "Hopefully we have given ourselves the best chance by winning the group."

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