A breathtaking double save by Olexandr Goryainov helped FC Metalist Kharkiv secure a point in their Group K opener at Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
Goryainov displayed razor-sharp reflexes to deny Karim Bellarabi twice in quick succession eight minutes from time. The ball broke a third time to André Schürrle, but the German international's shot crashed off the face of the crossbar and Metalist escaped unscathed from the most intense moment of an otherwise subdued match.
The last time these sides met, in the last 32 of the same competition in 2010/11, Leverkusen sealed a 6-0 aggregate victory. Their Ukrainian visitors showed little sign of that memory weighing on them, however, as they played their part in a lively opening phase.
Metalist engineered the first real chance 15 minutes in when Jonathan Cristaldo dribbled his way past two Leverkusen defenders on the right side of their penalty area before unleashing a ferocious drive. Home keeper Bernd Leno was well positioned to save, but the chance served to highlight the threat posed by Myron Markevich's team.
As the opening half progressed, the hosts began to find more space in the final third of the pitch, with Stefan Kiessling and Renato Augusto both testing Goryainov before the interval. Sascha Lewandowski's side continued to apply pressure into the second period as well, though they rarely managed to bridge the gap between possession and clear-cut opportunities.
In the 82st minute, Leverkusen finally appeared to have broken Metalist's resistance when a Schürrle pass sent Bellarabi through one-on-one. However, Goryainov stood tall to parry the first attempt and then somehow flick away the striker's second bite at the cherry. Schürrle's follow-up rattled the bar and the best chance of the match was gone.
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