MANCHESTER, England - Manchester United drew a line beneath recent back-to-back home defeats by overcoming Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 at Old Trafford yesterday to secure top spot in Champions League Group A.
Beaten 1-0 by first Everton and then Newcastle United in their past two home games, United survived several near-misses against the Ukrainian champions before prevailing through a second-half goal from Phil Jones.
As well as eliminating Shakhtar, the result gave United three home victories in the group phase for the first time since they last won the competition in 2007-08.
Manager David Moyes can now look forward to a favourable tie in the last 16 when the draw is made next Monday, while Shakhtar slip into the Europa League due to Bayer Leverkusen's 1-0 win over Real Sociedad in the other group game.
"We wanted to top the group and we have," said Moyes.
"I was tough with them at halftime, but we needed to be — we need to win games. A club like Manchester United has to be trying to win the trophy; that's their job.
"You have to get better as the tournament goes on. It's a tough competition, a hard one, but we will take it one game at a time."
Moyes's decision to introduce Robin van Persie and Tom Cleverley energised the crowd further and in the 67th minute, United scored.
Van Persie's right-wing corner took a glancing blow off a defender at the near post and sat up invitingly for Jones, who smartly readjusted his body position and lashed home a low volley.
Cleverley volleyed over as United looked to extend their lead and Van Persie dinked a shot wide in stoppage time, but Jones's strike proved enough to settle the game and begin the process of repairing Old Trafford's once formidable reputation.