A 1-1 home draw against AFC Ajax was not the result FC Dynamo Kyiv would have wanted in their UEFA Champions League play-off opener, but given that they were a goal and a man down at one point, captain Andriy Shevchenko could not be too downhearted.
"It was very important for us to keep a clean sheet," said the 33-year-old striker, echoing his comments before the game. "We didn't, but nevertheless I'm delighted with the standard of our football and considering the situation in the second half the result is good as well."
Reduced to ten men after Denys Garmash's 56th-minute dismissal, Dynamo were a goal behind within a minute when Jan Vertonghen struck. However, Oleh Gusev soon levelled to keep his side's options open in the second leg in Amsterdam, although the Ukrainian side did have a little help from 17-year-old debutant goalkeeper Maxym Koval, who shone in his first game for the club he joined from FC Metalurh Zaporizhya in July. "He looked very mature," said Shevchenko. "He saved our team several times and fully deserves lots of compliments."
The seasoned former AC Milan and Chelsea FC man struggled to be too upset about the two bookings that resulted in the 20-year-old Garmash's red card. "We cannot criticise Denys," Shevchenko said. "His dismissal was just a bit of over exuberance. It's in his nature to be in the middle of the action and fight until the end. It was not his fault."
Midfielder Ognjen Vukojević, however, would not deny that Dynamo felt the pain in the young Garmash's absence. "Missing one player in a game against a team like Ajax is crucial, but we showed our character and earned quite a satisfying result," said the 26-year-old Croatian international. "Now we'll try to win in Amsterdam and go through to the group stage. We have to be careful in midfield and use our flanks more. Our main threat is on the counterattack. Three years ago my old club Dinamo Zagreb beat Ajax 3-2 in Amsterdam in the UEFA Cup. I think we can do the same."
Ajax goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg does not fancy the Ukrainian side's chances. "They have to attack because they need to score, but with the players we have we score in almost every game, so I think we'll have lots of opportunities at home," the 27-year-old said. "I think we had more chances in Kyiv, at least three in the first half and a few more in the second, so we deserved another goal anyway."
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