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Metalist wrap up top spot with Leverkusen win

FC Metalist Kharkiv 2-0 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Goals from Jonathan Cristaldo and Cleiton Xavier earned Metalist victory and secured top spot ahead of their fellow Group H qualifiers.

Metalist celebrate Jonathan Cristaldo's opening goal against Leverkusen
Metalist celebrate Jonathan Cristaldo's opening goal against Leverkusen ©AFP/Getty Images

FC Metalist Kharkiv got the better of a much-changed Bayer 04 Leverkusen side to rubber-stamp first place in UEFA Europa League Group H.

Although both teams had secured a berth in the last 32 on matchday four, top spot in the section remained up for grabs. Metalist are now assured of that honour thanks to second-half goals from Jonathan Cristaldo and Cleiton Xavier, the first the visitors had conceded in this season's group stage.

Such was their confidence, the Bundesliga outfit handed first starts to four players. Right-back Carlinhos, aged 18, was particularly vibrant and could have had the first goal after 19 minutes but, having exchanged passes with Junior Fernándes, lost his balance and dragged wide.

Junior was again to the fore after Renato Augusto had dispossessed Cleiton, raced forward and played in his team-mate. The impressive No7's rasping shot from the right channel looked destined for the net but Olexandr Goryainov did splendidly well to tip it onto the bar.

Bernd Leno had to be equally aware just before half-time, showing fine instincts to turn over Cleiton's diving header. However, he could do nothing to preserve his team's fine record 25 seconds after the interval, Cristaldo finishing first time on the half-volley after latching onto Fininho's long ball over the top.

Not even top scorer Stefan Kiessling could inspire Leverkusen after coming off the bench, and it was Myron Markevich's side who remained the greater threat. They got their just reward five minutes from time, Taison squaring for Cleiton, who bought himself space with a delightful first-time turn before finishing coolly past Leno.