The Bundesliga outfit will reflect on a missed opportunity to take three points, as only some profligate finishing and some excellent goalkeeping from Oleksandr Goryainov prevented them from running amok at the BayArena.
The last time these two sides had met was at the last 32 stage of this competition two seasons ago. On that occasion, Bayer had cruised to a 6-0 aggregate victory, but a determined and well-organised Kharkiv side were not to about to allow a repeat of that scoreline. In an entertaining opening to the game, Stefan Kießling had a header well held by Goryainov in the Kharkiv goal, before Stefan Schwaab had to be alert to deny Cristaldo after the Argentine had borne down on goal.
Gradually, however the home side began to exert their authority. Renato Augusto in particular was impressing for the home side and it was the Brazilian that came closest to scoring when he forced Kharkiv keeper Goryainov to turn a fierce drive around the post. An even better chance then fell the way of defender Ömer Toprak just before the interval, but he could only divert Stefan Reinartz's flicked header over the bar with Goryainov beaten.
Bayer dominance not rewarded
The pattern of the game remained the same in the second period with the home side dominating possession and peppering the Kharkiv goal. The energetic Karim Bellarabi saw an angled drive whistle past the post, before Augusto then drew another smart save from Goryainov with a stinging effort from a central possession. The away side's remit was clearly soak up pressure and hit their hosts on the counter-attack, but some good anticipation from Toprak and Co. snuffed out their quick breaks at the source.
Andre Schürrle and Gonzalo Castro were thrown on as Sami Hyypiä's men sensed that a victory was within their grasp, and the home side were getting closer. In the final ten minutes, Goryainov denied Bellarabi with an excellent double-save before Schürrle thundered a shot against the crossbar from the rebound. The home side continued to huff and puff but a goal proved elusive. Hyypiä's team next face an away trip to Norwegian side Rosenborg on Matchday 2.
Leverkusen: Leno - Schwaab, Wollscheid, Toprak, Hosogai - Bender (Schürrle, 63'), Reinatz, Rolfes - Bellarabi, Renato Augusto (Castro, 63'), Kießling (Junior Fernandes, 76')
Kharkiv: Goryainov - Fininho, Gueye, Torsiglieri, Villagra - Edmar, Torres - Taison (Willian, 65'), Xavier, Sosa (Pshenychnykh, 87') - Cristaldo (Markos, 76')