Jones goal lifts United and eliminates Shakhtar
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Manchester United midfielder Phil Jones grabbed the winner to ensure his already-qualified team finished top of Champions League Group A as they eliminated Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
England international Jones cracked home a low volley in the 67th minute to secure the victory for United, top of their group before kickoff but having lost their last two Premier League home matches, and ease the pressure on manager David Moyes.
Ukraine champions Shakhtar, who needed to match Bayer Leverkusen's result at Real Sociedad to progress, finished third and go into the Europa League after the Bundesliga side held on for a 1-0 win in Spain that took them into the knockout phase.
Shakhtar's Brazilian trio of Taison, Alex Teixeira and Luiz Adriano gave vulnerable United a torrid time early on, but Mircea Lucescu's side could not convert any of their chances and they fell away after utility man Jones broke the deadlock.
Moyes said United, who finish with 14 points from their six group games, should still be viewed as a strong Champions League contender, but he was keen to add a proviso.
"I think we could be classed as one of the favorites, but we'll have to improve if we're to keep progressing in the Champions League," he was quoted as saying on the BBC.
"We wanted to top the group and we have. The win helps us, it improves our form. We didn't play well for 30 minutes and they had two or three opportunities, but in the second half it was much better.
"I was tough with them at halftime but we needed to be, we need to win games ... we weren't close enough to them (in the first half). To be fair the players responded well.
"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." Continued...