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Taison on target as Metalist hold AZ

FC Metalist Kharkiv 1-1 AZ Alkmaar
Taison's low drive earned a deserved share of the spoils for Myron Markevich's Metalist in the battle of the Group G leaders.

Taison put away a fine equaliser for Metalist
Taison put away a fine equaliser for Metalist ©Getty Images

AZ Alkmaar captain Niklas Moisander's 26th-birthday celebrations ended on a low note as the Dutch side were pegged back by their closest UEFA Europa League Group G rivals, FC Metalist Kharkiv, in Ukraine.

Jozy Altidore had fired AZ ahead in the first half, but Metalist were rewarded for a much-improved showing after the interval, with Taison's effort earning them a share of the points. Defender Moisander should have seen it coming: he has twice previously been on the team sheet for UEFA games on his birthday, and on both occasions the final score was 1-1.

AZ went into the match without a win in 12 European away trips but seemed to have the measure of their hosts soon after the start. Metalist like to attack, as FK Austria Wien discovered to their cost on matchday one, but Gertjan Verbeek's side fought fire with fire, hassling and harrying.

Moments after having a header saved by Oleksandr Goryainov, Altidore beat the Metalist goalkeeper on 26 minutes, finishing crisply from the left as Ragnar Klavan's ball caught the home side napping.

Cristian Villagra and Cleiton Xavier responded with shots more in hope than expectation, but a Metalist attack that had looked light in the first half grew teeth over the break. Jonathan Cristaldo headed against the base of Esteban Alvarado's post and trundled another effort wide before, on 76 minutes, Taison cut inside defender Dirk Marcellis and smashed a low shot from the edge of the box inside the diving keeper's right-hand post.