Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Relief: Manchester United 1 - Shakhtar Donetsk 0 -- Game Recap and Player Ratings

Relief from the palace of King Sargon II
Photo by Charlie Phillips on Flickr

The relief was palpable at Old Trafford when Phil Jones volleyed the ball into the net, the act breaking not only a more than five hour scoreless streak but sending Manchester United into the Champions League knockout stage as the top seed from Group A.  Jones' goal was a standout moment in a game that featured little to be happy about for the home side, as poor ball control and numerous defensive mistakes clouded much of the Red Devils' gameplan; but for the shooting inaccuracy of the visitors from Ukraine, the result could have easily gone the other way. 

Although Manager David Moyes will undoubtedly be buoyed by the victory, the display prompted as many questions as it did answers, and will leave the Red Devils with numerous problems to sort out in order to get their season back on track.  Herewith, the frank and honest individual player ratings from a much needed home win:
De Gea: Was aided by the visitors' less-than-accurate shooting. 6.0

Rafael: Decent night defensively. 5.5

Ferdinand: Nearly cost his teammates dearly when he was beaten badly by Alex Teixeira. Bailed out more than once by Jonny Evans. Is this the end? 3.5

Evans: Covered for Rio Ferdinand on numerous occasions. Looked solid defensively, but appears increasingly uncomfortable in possession.  5.0
Büttner: Unable to deliver an accurate cross and too easily dispossessed of the ball. 3.5
Young: Failed on delivery from the corner and managed to miss both an open net and a wide open Rooney when the goal was begging before the interval. Roy Keane's 'Just not good enough' comment summed it up nicely. 3.5

Giggs: Completely overrun in midfield, left acres of open space in front and behind him. Not his night. 4.0

Jones: Midfield destroyer. His goal was crucial, ending the home side's inexplicable scoreless streak at Old Trafford. 7.0

Januzaj: Unleashed a first half effort corker right at the keeper, but was often pushed around much too easily by the opposition. 5.0

Kagawa: Describing his first half involvement as peripheral would be gracious. Slightly better after the break. 5.0
Rooney (C): Precious little to do before the interval. Dropped much deeper when RVP entered the contest, but had little impact on the outcome.  5.5

Van Persie (Young), 63: Gained some needed match fitness. 5.0

Cleverley (Giggs), 63: The ball moved better when he entered the contest. 5.0
Valencia (Büttner), 88: N/A
Goals: Jones 67'

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