Manchester United eased the pressure on David Moyes with a 1-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk but the manager admitted he had to give his players a dressing- down at the interval after they passed "terribly" during the opening half.
United went on to win their closing Champions League group game 1-0 with a Phil Jones 67th-minute strike to secure top spot and Moyes, who acknowledged his team will have to improve to make further progress in the competition, said it was not the first time he had got tough at half-time.
"To be honest, it's been that way since I came here," the manager said. "We need to win matches and the players responded well to that encouragement. We passed the ball much better after we had given it away terribly in the first half and that's not like us.
"We didn't play particularly well in the opening 30 minutes, we could have been fortunate still to be 0-0 but we missed a couple of chances just before half-time ourselves but we played much better in the second half."
Moyes admitted that overall the display was no better than those that led to consecutive 1-0 defeats last week. He said: "I thought there wasn't much difference to the Everton and Newcastle games. Tonight we got the goal. In those other games, Everton and Newcastle got the goal. There wasn't an awful lot of difference between them."
After United finished unbeaten and top of Group A, Moyes believes his team are among the frontrunners to win the European Cup, though they will have to play better. "I think we could be classed as one of the favourites but we'll have to improve if we're to keep progressing in the Champions League," he said.
However, Roy Keane, the former United captain working as a pundit for ITV, was scathing. Speaking at half-time, before a more positive post-match analysis, he said: "There has been no reaction from the United players from the disappointment of last week. They don't look like a team, just a collection of individuals running around. You can defend players for making mistakes but you cannot defend players for not tackling and not getting close to people. They, United, had a couple of good chances through Ashley Young towards the end of the first half. He should certainly hit the target. I think it sums up his time at Man United – just not good enough.
"David Moyes took the heat off the players before the game by saying it is his responsibility but we are talking about experienced players.
"Rio Ferdinand's decision-making, the chances he has taken, it is ridiculous. It is like his debut tonight. As we said before the game, there are big question marks over the manager and the players. That for Manchester United is certainly not good enough."