United rely on reserves of strength

Van der Gouw saves Ferguson's men
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The Independent Football

When Manchester United's players were mobbed on their arrival in Ukraine, Raimond van der Gouw, though their tallest player, passed through the throng unnoticed. Last night, however, in a packed stadium, United's reserve goalkeeper was the centre of attention, having earned his club a crucial Champions' League point.

When Manchester United's players were mobbed on their arrival in Ukraine, Raimond van der Gouw, though their tallest player, passed through the throng unnoticed. Last night, however, in a packed stadium, United's reserve goalkeeper was the centre of attention, having earned his club a crucial Champions' League point.

On a pitch made treacherous by torrential rain the 37-year-old Dutchman made a series of saves to deny the Ukrainian champions. Yet twice he needed the help of the woodwork as United endured the sternest test of their season to date.

With Anderlecht defeating PSV Eindhoven United are now in control of Group G, a point clear at the top of the section. "Drawing is never a success but in the context of the game, and the other match in the group, it was a good result," said Sir Alex Ferguson. "The conditions made it very difficult. We played quite well in the first half but... Kiev played very well in the second. I was very pleased with Van der Gouw. I knew he wouldn't let me down. He has good experience and presence."

Van der Gouw's performance will have added to the gloom enveloping Mark Bosnich, whose only chance of a recall would now seem to hinge on the Dutchman being injured as well as Fabien Barthez, who missed last night's match with a back strain.

The heavy pitch - it had rained for 48 hours in Kiev and did so throughout the match - had prompted Ferguson to delay Jaap Stam's comeback from a hamstring injury and not to risk Paul Scholes, who had a similar strain. Nicky Butt came in for him while Gary Neville continued in central defence. The England defender went on to have an immaculate match, his quick feet and reading of the game making him ideally suited to both the pitch and the elusive nature of Kiev's strikers.

Kiev, who lost their opening match away to PSV Eindhoven, were at full strength. If the personnel was unchanged, however, their appearance was. In a nightmare move from the point of view of television and radio commentators, the whole team had shaved their heads.

The Ukrainian club who, like United, are bidding this season for their fourth successive quarter-final appearance, began at a high tempo.

United were indebted to an excellent piece of defending by Ryan Giggs after Maxim Shatskikh broke onto an Andrei Husin pass as Kiev counter-attacked at pace. Giggs quickly appeared in a more familiar role, setting up Dwight Yorke only for the Tobagan, making his first start for four weeks, to slice his ambitious shot wide.

That they had carved out such a chance helped to settle United, who began to control midfield. This manifested itself in Andy Cole, David Beckham, Yorke and Roy Keane all having shots of varying menace in a 10-minute spell.

None, though, drew from Alexander Shovkovsky the kind of save Van der Gouw was forced to make on 29 minutes after Georgi Demetradze had weaved his way down the left flank before unleashing a 15-yard shot which the Dutch keeper turned past the post.

Three minutes into the second period Van der Gouw was comprehensively beaten as Shatskikh burst through the inside-right channel and rattled a fierce shot against the angle of the near post and bar. This roused the sodden crowd but they remained frustrated as Mickaël Silvestre's neat tackle denied the Uzbek forward as he shaped to shoot then Neville's brave block stopped Valentin Bialkevich's follow-up.

A brace of substitutions then seemed to affect United's concentration as Shatskikh was allowed to run unchallenged before releasing a 30-yard shot that Van der Gouw finger-tipped onto the post.

This prompted a frenzied final assault from Kiev but United, defending with a mixture of pluck, luck and intelligence, survived as Sergei Federov, a late Kiev substitute, missed two chances for glory.

Dynamo Kiev (4-4-2): Shovkovsky; Dmitrulin (Bodnar, 82), Holovko, Vaschuk, Nesmachny; Khatskevich, Husin (Federov, 86), Kaladze, Bialkevic; Demetradze (Kuzmichev, 69), Shatskikh. Substitutes not used: Kernozenko (gk), Gerasimenko, Yashkin, Serebrennikov.

Manchester United (4-4-2): Van der Gouw; Irwin, G Neville, Johnsen, Silvestre; Beckham, Keane, Butt, Giggs; Yorke (Sheringham, 67) Cole (Solskjaer, 77). Substitutes not used: Bosnich (gk), Stam, P Neville, Scholes, Wallwork.

Referee: K M Nielsen (Denmark).

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