FC Shakhtar Donetsk recovered from going behind, not to mention some early nerves, to earn a 1-1 draw against FC Dynamo Kyiv that leaves them with the narrowest of away-goals advantages in this UEFA Cup semi-final tie.
Dynamo coach Yuri Semin had appeared on course for a first victory in five attempts against the Pitmen when his dominant side forged ahead midway through the first half, Dmytro Chygrynskiy putting through his own net. Indeed, the hosts had opportunities to extend the advantage as the visitors struggled to find their shape, and were punished for their profligacy 22 minutes from time as substitute Willian's cross was bundled in by a combination of Fernandinho and Betão at the near post. Olexandr Aliyev almost restored Dynamo's lead before full time but Andriy Pyatov stood up well and so it is advantage Shakhtar going into next week's return – just.
Presidents past and present were in attendance at the Valeriy Lobanovskiy Stadium, crossing the political divide to watch a historic date for Ukrainian football. Such diplomacy was less evident on the pitch as the game got under way. Ognjen Vukojević set the tone for a fractious opening when he scythed Shakhtar captain Darijo Srna within 30 seconds of the kick-off; it was the first of 25 first-half fouls. With the game so stop-start, neither team could find a rhythm as pass after pass went astray and it was not until 20 minutes had gone that Artem Milevskiy fashioned the first opening, cleverly turning Tomáš Hübschman and poking wide.
Two minutes later Dynamo were ahead. Having already provided warning of his dead-ball prowess with a free-kick that clipped the top of the net, Aliyev drove another set-piece through a crowded box. The ball took a deflection off Ismaël Bangoura and, under pressure from Milevskiy at the far post, Chygrynskiy turned it into his own net. There were signs of hope for Shakhtar, however. Like the policeman assailed by a wayward sprinkler before kick-off, the visitors had struggled to find their footing but going behind seemed to ease nerves. It needed Stanislav Bogush's alertness to deny them an equaliser when Fernandinho and Jadson combined to put through fellow Brazilian Luiz Adriano.
It was a rare sortie into Dynamo territory and the hosts, with Aliyev pulling the strings, soon re-established their supremacy. Following a corner on the cusp of half-time, Carlos Corrêa's shot grazed the upright with the help of another deflection, and soon after the restart a fully-stretched Milevskiy failed to get enough on Aliyev's arcing free-kick with the goal at his mercy. Needing to do something to stem the tide, Mircea Lucescu brought on Willian: it proved a masterstroke. The 20-year-old scored the only goal when these sides met in November and here he turned provider, firing in the low cross that created the equaliser as Shakhtar earned an unlikely draw, their joy tempered only by a yellow card that rules defender Olexandr Kucher out of the second leg.