Havard Nordtveit appeared set to be the unlikely hero as Hoffenheim - making their debut in the Champions League group stages - twice held the lead at the Metalist Stadium.
Julian Nagelsmann's side wasted little time in making an impact on Europe's top club competition, Florian Grillitsch giving them a sixth-minute lead when he delicately lifted Leonardo Bittencourt's throughball over the advancing Andriy Pyatov.
His neat finish was cancelled out before the half-hour mark by Ismaily, who benefited from Nordtveit selling himself early, the Hoffenheim defender unnecessarily sliding in, to cut inside and curl home a low shot with the outside of his left foot beyond Oliver Baumann.
However, Pyatov's decision to come off his line to deal with Andrej Kramaric's corner allowed the former West Ham defender to quickly flip the script, his header finding an unguarded net seven minutes before the break.
Shakhtar struggled to break open Hoffenheim in the second half until Maycon picked his spot from distance just five minutes after his introduction off the bench.
The Brazilian was given time and space to get away a fierce left-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area that flashed beyond the reach of goalkeeper Baumann.
The hosts came close to grabbing a late winner – Marlos seeing a goal-bound effort blocked by Taras Stepanenko, with Shakhtar's loud appeals for handball rejected – but the Bundesliga club just about held firm during a frenetic finish to pick up a point on the road.
What it means: Shakhtar still finding their feet
Paulo Fonseca steered the Ukrainian champions to the knockout stages in 2017-18, where they were knocked out by Roma in the last 16 on away goals. However, the Portuguese will do well to repeat the achievement this term, even though they did show excellent fighting spirit against Hoffenheim.
Yet it should be remembered that Fonseca is playing with a different hand this season, no longer able to call upon departed trio Fred (Manchester United), Bernard (Everton) and Facundo Ferreyra (Benfica).
Pat on the back: Bittencourt pulls the strings
The playmaker has flattered to deceive in his career, never quite making the grade during his time with Borussia Dortmund. Nagelsmann, however, may be the coach to get the best out of him, judging by his performance on Wednesday. Bittencourt created three chances, including his new team's opener.
Boot up the backside: Poor Pyatov picked on
The Ukraine international – who started for his country in recent games against Slovakia and the Czech Republic – played with the consistency of lumpy custard. There was a smart save to deny Adam Szalai making it 2-0 in the first half, but his poor decision gifted Nordtveit a goal and he was also fortunate his failure to hold Kramaric's stinging shot went unpunished early in the second half.
Key Opta stats:
- Shakhtar Donetsk have scored two-plus goals in each of their last seven home Champions League games (18 goals total – 2.6 per game), losing just one of those matches (W5 D1).
- Hoffenheim have never won away from home in any European competition (including qualifiers), and have now conceded 12 goals in five such matches on their travels (D2 L3).
- Hoffenheim midfielder Florian Grillitsch is only the second Austrian to score on his Champions League debut, after Christian Stumpf did so for RapidVienna against Fenerbahce in September 1996.
- 15 of Shakhtar Donetsk's last 17 Champions league goals have been scored by players from South American countries, including 12 from Brazil.
- Aged 31 years and 58 days, Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann became the youngest ever coach to take charge of a Champions League match, surpassing Viktor Goncharenko's previous record of 31 years and 99 days.
8 - With his appearance tonight for Hoffenheim against Shakhtar Donetsk, Reiss Nelson becomes the eighth Englishman to achieve this feat. Precocious. https://t.co/avHu3bKVSY— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 19, 2018
Hoffenheim host Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund – the team they beat on the final day of last season to claim third place at the expense of their opponents on Saturday, while Shakhtar return to domestic action against Chornomorets the following day.