FC Dynamo Kyiv 1-1 AFC Ajax
Reduced to ten men and 1-0 down in quick succession, the hosts fought back to keep alive their hopes ahead of the return in Amsterdam.
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FC Dynamo Kyiv recovered from losing a man and a goal in quick succession to earn a draw in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off against AFC Ajax.
Both sides were involved in high-scoring encounters at the weekend but neither ever looked prepared to risk such excess in the Ukrainian capital. Denys Garmash's 56th-minute dismissal appeared to have given the visitors a decisive advantage which they swiftly pounced on through Jan Vertonghen, who was also a scorer in Saturday's 4-2 win against BV Vitesse. Their lead was short-lived, however, Oleh Gusev slotting in the equaliser nine minutes later to leave everything to play for in Wednesday's return.
Valeriy Gazzaev had recalled Taras Mikhalik, Roman Eremenko, Andriy Shevchenko and Andriy Yarmolenko after resting them for the 3-1 defeat by FC Vorskla Poltava and the Dynamo coach appeared to have been vindicated early on. Shevchenko – who went close with a free-kick on 20 minutes – and Yarmolenko caused immediate trouble ahead of the mischievous Gusev, who twice threatened in behind the Ajax defence.
Having struck 106 Eredivisie goals last term, however, Martin Jol's side would remain quiet for only so long. It was captain Luis Suárez, a scorer 35 times last season and back in the fold following a two-game domestic suspension, who stirred his team into life, exchanging passes with summer recruit Mounir El Hamdaoui before unleashing a shot which Maxym Koval pushed away from danger.
Suárez was again the perpetrator when Koval was called into action on 33 minutes, the 17-year-old parrying the Uruguayan striker's shot behind for a corner. Dynamo's inexperienced keeper subsequently had little reason for concern until the 57th minute, Garmash's dismissal for a second yellow card presenting Ajax with a menacing set piece 35 metres from goal. Demy de Zeeuw flighted the teasing delivery and Vertonghen finished with aplomb, heading past Koval despite facing away from goal.
Far from extinguishing Dynamo's early gusto altogether, the goal appeared to reinvigorate the hosts. They could scarcely have accounted for the nature of their equaliser, though, Gusev racing onto a deflected Koval clearance and slotting low past Maarten Stekelenburg, who had opted not to advance from his line. El Hamdaoui ghosted into the heart of the Dynamo penalty area in the final minute but Koval was on hand to ensure the spoils were shared ahead of his side's trip to Amsterdam.