Although the hosts began positively, Leverkusen always looked in control, and could perhaps have been travelling home with more to smile about had Sidney Sam and Sebastian Boenisch not missed good second-half chances.
Revenge on the menu
Shakhtar, on a revenge mission after their 4-0 hammering at the BayArena two weeks ago, began as if it were a dish best served on a cold Ukrainian night. Argentinean striker Facundo Ferreyra had the first real chance of the half after eight minutes when captain Darijo Srna cut the ball back, allowing him to release a snapshot at Bernd Leno. Four minutes later the same combination forced Leno into another smart save, as only captain Simon Rolfes was showing the requisite battling qualities in the Leverkusen side.
Sam and Heung Min Son were working hard, offering options on the occasional break, but their wastefulness was hindering Leverkusen’s attempts. Meanwhile, one of Shakhtar’s plethora of Brazilians, Bernard, was showing them how to use the ball, while the inexhaustible Srna struck the post in the 32nd minute, highlighting Shakhtar’s threat.
End to end
The captain’s attempt invigorated the Ukrainians, for whom Bernard was giving Giulio Donati a torrid time, having a go himself in the 33rd minute, before setting up Ferreyra moments later. As the half drew to an end, Lars Bender and Gonzalo Castro were beginning to impose themselves, only to allow Douglas Costa one effort from distance, which missed Leno’s post by a whisker.
The German keeper was called into action immediately as the second half got underway, as Bender picked up a booking for a foul on Bernard, and Srna struck a wicked dipping free-kick. Despite it bouncing just in front of him, Leno palmed it away, leading to a reorganised Leverkusen to enjoy their best spell of the game. Boenisch volleyed a corner over the bar and moments later in the 58th minute, Sam struck a harmless long-distance shot at Andriy Pyatov.
Entertaining, but not clinical
As Shakhtar took their turn to control a fluctuating game, their best chance came in the 68th minute when a corner found its way to centre-half Yaroslav Rakitskiy, who, although knowing nothing about it, directed a header into the side-netting. As Leverkusen looked to find a crucial goal, Sam spurned a glorious opportunity, created by Stefan Kießling, when he volleyed straight at Pyatov from the penalty spot.
Substitute Emre Can had the best late opening in the 83rd minute after a lovely Bender lay-off, but despite providing entertainment, neither side could final the final touch in front of goal and had to settle for a point apiece in Group A, where there remains all to play for, after group leaders Manchester United were held to a goalless draw by bottom side Real Sociedad de Futbol.
Shakhtar: Pyatov - Srna, Kucher, Rakitskiy, Schevchuk - Fernando, Hübschman - Douglas Costa (Taison, 78), Bernard (Ilsinho, 64'), Alex Teixeira - Ferreyra (Luiz Adriano, 78')
Leverkusen: Leno - Donati, Spahic, Toprak, Boenisch - Bender, Rolfes, Castro (Can, 68') - Sam (Kruse, 90+3'), Kießling, Son (Hegeler, 77')
Check out Leverkusen's South Korean starlet Heung Min Son's top five goals in the Bundesliga, exclusively on the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: