Dec 10, 2013

    Man U eyes European redemption


    MANCHESTER United will once again look to the Champions League for distraction from their domestic woes when they host Shakhtar Donetsk in their concluding group-phase game today.

    Consecutive home defeats by Everton and Newcastle United have left the defending champions 13 points behind leaders Arsenal in the Premier League and they are seven points below the Champions League places.

    Manager David Moyes has had to face a barrage of questions about his ability to turn the situation around, but in European competition he has found solace.

    United are unbeaten in the Champions League this season and secured a place in the knockout rounds with a superb 5-0 victory away to Bayer Leverkusen in their last outing.

    They can secure top spot in Group A, and with it an advantageous draw for the last 16, if they avoid defeat against Shakhtar.

    "It's important we give ourselves every chance of progressing even further in the Champions League by finishing top," said Moyes.

    "It won't make it easier, but it will give us a little bit of an advantage by having the second game at home (in the last 16)."

    Asked if he might rotate his squad for the visit of the Ukrainian champions, he replied: "We have qualified, so it gives me a chance to have a look at that."

    Moyes will have Wayne Rooney available again after he missed the loss to Newcastle through suspension, while Marouane Fellaini is in contention after he was suspended for the trip to Leverkusen.

    Shakhtar have never won in England, but they beat Chelsea in Donetsk in last season's competition, and lost the return game only after Victor Moses scored a 94th-minute winner.

    Meanwhile, United are seeking to register three group-phase wins for the first time since they last won the competition in 2007-08.