After all the missed chances in the previous games, after all the efforts were wide and more focused, after going straight at the goalkeepers and after being blocked by desperate defenders from closer range, Giorgios Giakoumakis was not there when the half-hour mark arrived. mark at Celtic Park.
For people of a certain generation, Hot Shot was the work of Hamish, about 40 yards away from what the great Balfour was unleashing on the comic pages of another life.
Giakoumakis went home pleased and angry. Delighted as Liel Abada released the ball in front of him after competing with two Shakhtar defenders. Anger because all these Celtic players will be frustrated with all the opportunities that passed them by in the previous four group games.
Celtic’s numbers going into this one were enough. In their matches Paris St-Germain, Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Spurs, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax scored more attempts than theirs. They would take more shots than Dortmund, Ajax, Sporting, Porto, AC Milan and Sevilla. Sixteen shots to the side and yet two crying goals and a career with few misses can be seen from behind a sofa.
When Celtic played against Real Madrid in Glasgow, Shakhtar in Poland and Leipzig in Glasgow and Germany, they scored 12.5% of the time. Only Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen and Copenhagen had a worse performance during the first four days. Giakoumakis converted the shot, which was Celtic’s first strike of the night. have mercy Celtic Park erupted, a deafening amalgam of joy and relief.
This stadium has not seen a home goal in the Champions League group stage since Callum McGregor scored against Bayern Munich five years ago. Now the challenge was to maintain or add to it.
They would have the last experience in that regard. They won 1-0 against Shakhtar last month but in the words of Ange Postecoglou, they grew negative, played safe, went into their shells and drew the game they should have won. That was the lesson. be true Be positive. be in front
They couldn’t do it. Not because they lost their nerve. Maybe because they showed too much. Too much attacking intent that left gaps to exploit, too much desire to make two and not enough pragmatism that would have kept Shakhtar at zero. Postecoglou has not been careful at all, of course.
Mudry suckerpunched Celtic to the ground
After a chess match in the first 45 minutes, everything changed in the second. When the Marvelous Marvin Hagler went toe-to-toe with Thomas The Hitman Hearns for the middleweight championship of the world at Caesars Palace in 1985, both men decided to abandon all pretensions of defense and go for the jugular. At times in the second half it was the equivalent of football.
Shakhtar attacked with menace at the start of the new half, the warning coming in Celtic’s lap when Oleksandr Zubkov hit the side netting when he should have scored. That was the precedent for the draw. Celtic got sucked in, plain and simple. From an attacking free-kick in the middle of Xakhtar to an electric counter-attack by the wonderful Mykhaylo Mudryk.
Arsenal are reportedly interested in Mudryk. They should move on. When he decided to go, he went. His pace was devastating and his finish a piece of class. Postecoglou walked away from the field with a hurt face. Now another mountain to climb to get that victory.
The game was tied and all sorts of space opened up, huge gaps in the home half for Shakhtar to attack and a fair amount of space at the back for the visitors that Celtic could target.
That worry about missed opportunities? He came back. Five minutes after Mudry made it 1-1, Giakoumakis played in Kyogo Furuhashi – two starters in the team has been as rare as seeing a dodo – but Kyogo kept his shot low when he should have raised it. Celtic Park groaned at the moment they lost, but as far as the seats were concerned, they weren’t even on the pitch for what happened next.
Celtic can’t complain about a point, not when they were on the right side of the century miss. This century, last century, any century. Ronny Rosenthal, Peter van Vossen, Chris Iwelumo – take it easy guys. There’s a new kid in town.
Mudryk – who else? – Accelerated through space and turned on the afterburners to get away from Cameron Carter-Vickers. It was almost as if he had been wounded and set free, such was his pace. He did everything.
Beating the Celtic defence, Joe Hart was caught out of position with a cushioned square pass to Danylo Sikan, who could have paused, bent and headed home, but chose to do an impression of an octopus out of a tree. He spread it wide. Rumors were last night that Diana Ross, the former World Cup penalty queen, was hoping to contact him to empathize.
It wouldn’t be Celtic if there wasn’t a late surge and Matt O’Riley was the main man in that area. Another possibility, another wide. One point, but that was enough to justify it. Another learning step to win some of these competitions? That’s what Postecoglou hopes. They have a lot going for them, Celtic, but they have a lot to grow.
They have one more crack, next week in Madrid. It’s hard to see a game against the European champions as a dead rubber, but that’s what it is. That’s the harsh reality of life for great hitters.