Valencia CF put their indifferent domestic form behind them by securing a 1-1 draw against FC Dynamo Kyiv to take a slight advantage into the second leg of their UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie.
Winners of the competition in 2004, Valencia had lost three of their last five league matches in Spain but dug deep nonetheless to gain a potentially valuable result at a snowy Valeri Lobanovskiy Stadium. David Silva gave the visitors the perfect start after eight minutes but Dynamo levelled just past the hour when Florin Cernat's free-kick flew in off Artem Milevskiy, whose match ended prematurely with a red card midway through the second period.
Dynamo began the brighter and Artem Kravets might have done better in the eighth minute when he got the better of centre-backs Carlos Marchena and Albiol only to send his left-footed shot wide. Soon after, though, Valencia seized the initiative as Pablo Hernández slid the ball inside the Dynamo right-back to put Juan Mata into the penalty area and his cut-back was turned in at the near post by Silva.
Valencia keeper César then found himself having to work hard to keep his team ahead, denying Kravets and Andriy Nesmachniy while also bundling a long-range effort from Cernat wide early in the second period. The winter signing from Tottenham Hotspur FC could do nothing about the goal that drew Dynamo level on 63 minutes, though. Having won a free-kick on the edge of the Valencia box, Cernat fired in a fierce cross-shot that deflected off Milevskiy's upper body and rocketed past a helpless César.
That was no more than Dynamo deserved, yet they were unable to build on the equaliser as they soon lost their goalscorer when he was shown a second yellow card. The hosts still threatened with ten men, although they almost conceded a second late on when Fernando Morientes rifled a left-footed effort wide from a difficult angle.