Bayer 04 Leverkusen had to settle for a point in their opening UEFA Champions League Group E fixture with PFC CSKA Moskva, despite taking a two-goal lead at the BayArena.
Attacking in numbers from the get-go, Leverkusen took a deserved lead in the ninth minute when Admir Mehmedi collected Benjamin Henrich's deflected ball over the top and fired beyond Igor Akinfeev from 12 yards. CSKA looked to be a hiding to nothing as Hakan Calhanoglu doubled Die Werkself's lead with a dipping left-footed strike, but after Akinfeev's superb double save to thwart Mehmedi, two goals in as many minutes from Alan Dzagoev and Roman Eremenko brought the Russian champions level.
Olympic silver medal winner Julian Brandt had a fantastic opportunity to restore Leverkusen's lead early in the second half, but the Germany international stabbed his effort wide when through on goal. Fresh from scoring a match-winning hat-trick against Hamburger SV at the weekend, Bayer's Joel Pohjanpalo put in a lively shift after entering the fray as a half-time substitute, but CSKA held firm to ensure the match ended all square.
Man of the match
That second-half miss notwithstanding, Brandt's performance as a whole provided another indication of why he is held in such high regard in his native Germany. CSKA could not live with the 20-year-old at times, with some of his bursts into the opposition box a joy to behold.
Leverkusen should have won the game, but the quality of their attacking football will give the Rhineland club every reason to believe they can go on and pick up the points needed to get out of the group.
- Leverkusen are unbeaten at home in Europe since November 2014.Charles Aranguiz, Kevin Volland and Pohjanpalo made their Champions League debuts.It was the first meeting between the two clubs.
Leverkusen: Leno - Henrichs, Tah, Toprak, Wendell - Bender (c) (Volland 51') , Kampl - Brandt, Mehmedi - Calhanoglu (Aranguiz 46') - Chicharito (Pohjanpalo 46')
Coach: Roger Schmidt
CSKA: Akinfeev (c) - Mario Fernandes, V. Berezutskiy, Ignashevich, Shchennikov - Dzagoez, Wernbloo - Ionov (Milanov 78'), R. Eremenko, Golovin (A. Berezutskiy 90+2') - L. Traore (Strandberg 73')
Coach: Leonid Slutsky