Manchester United were very unlucky to come away from Ukraine without a point after a valiant second half resurgence in a 2-1 loss courtesy of a late winner from Shakhtar Donetsk.
The Ukrainian side took an early lead after Zinchenko’s freekick was put into the box and the head of Callum Evans deflected it past Pierluigi Gollini.
United were forced into an early change when Sam Byrne slipped and fell awkwardly on the wet surface, injuring himself in the process, and he was replaced by Josh Harrop.
Chances were few and far between for United. The best of the first half came when a good move saw the ball released to Harrop on the left and only a timely intervention from a defender prevented the cross reaching James Wilson in the box, who was feeding off scraps for most of the first half and found himself doubled up on by the Donetsk players a lot of the time.
Donetsk threatened strongly just before the break but Mykyta Adamenko’s shot went well over the bar. United managed to hold on and stay only one goal behind at half-time.
United were much brighter in the second half. Evans put some good crosses into the box to pick out Pearson who went up for a header but couldn’t direct it towards the goal and the rebound was fired wide by Rothwell.
The favour was returned soon after when Rothwell pulled a ball back to Pearson but his shot curled just wide. A few minutes later, Harrop was brought down just on the edge of the area and Andreas Pereira stepped up to take the resulting freekick. His effort was on target but unfortunately straight at Sarnavskiy and Rothwell’s effort on the rebound was fired wide.
The equaliser did eventually come when Wilson (who else) headed home from a brilliant Pereira cross. At that point, it looked like United could go on and even claim all three points.
Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. Donetsk went on the attack and Ioannou tried to intercept but didn’t fully get control of the ball. He then tried to backheel the ball off Rusyn in an attempt to win a throw in for United but afforded possession to Shakhtar who punished him by cutting into the area to score the winner.
Ioannou is going to get a fair amount of criticism for attempting that back heel. It would have been much better if the ball was cleared. However, he wasn’t the only player who can be criticised for conceding that goal late on. Goss also had a chance to clear and Grimshaw allowed Zubkov to get away from him in the penalty area. Ioannou’s bad decision shouldn’t take away from an overall very good performance.
The next match sees United take on group leaders Real Sociedad on 23rd October. Real Sociedad go into the match in great form having scored eight goals in their two matches including a 5-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen in Germany.
Manchester United: Gollini, C. Evans (A. Fletcher 63′), Grimshaw (c), Ioannou, Goss, Weir, Pearson, Rothwell, A. Pereira, Byrne (Harrop 14′), Wilson. Un-used subs: Henderson, Rowley, McConnell, Barber, Willock.
Yellow Cards: Pearson, C. Evans, A. Pereira, Ioannou.