A moment of individual brilliance from Shakhtar Donetsk star Mykhaylo Mudryk sent Celtic crashing out of Europe and ensured their wait for a priceless home victory in the Champions League group stage goes on.
Ange Postecoglou’s side looked on course to secure maximum points when Giorgos Giakoumakis smashed home the opening goal after 34 minutes but Mudryk hauled the 13-time Ukrainian champions back on level terms in the second half with a sumptuous long-range strike following an impressive solo run.
Both sides continued to push for a late winner in front of a boisterous Parkhead crowd, but the Hoops were, once again, left to question their inability to convert chances. The Parkhead club have created a stunning 68 shots on goal across their previous five group stage games this season and only have THREE goals to show for it.
The result means that Celtic’s already faint hopes of qualifying for the Europa League knockout stages were ended as they were consigned to a bottom-of-the-table finish in Group F with just two points ahead of facing holders Real Madrid on matchday six.
Despite their overall profligacy in front of goal, this contest had fewer clear-cut scoring opportunities, with Kyogo Furuhashi passing up the only real gilt-edged chance of the night. Instead, it was the final pass or cross that let the hosts down against a well-organised Shakhtar defence.
Postecoglou had previously spoken about wanting to test his attacking style against some of Europe’s best teams in order to identify ways to improve and the Australian will know his side must do just that if they are to get back to this stage of the competition next season.
GlasgowWorld reflects on the three main talking points as Celtic struggle to make their mark at Europe’s top level.
Kyogo and Giakoumakis form rare strike partnership
Much of the pre-match build up was centred around who would start up front for Celtic - Kyogo Furuhashi or Giorgos Giakoumakis? Postecoglou’s answer was both. He made the rare decision to name the two strikers together in the same team for the first time.
The Hoops boss has often preferred to play with one or the other but given what was at stake and in their pursuit of goals, it seemed Postecoglou was going all out in a bid to find the win his team needed to maintain an outside chance of finishing third in the group.
As it transpired, Celtic did throw the kitchen sink at Shakhtar but they came up short. It appeared that Furuhashi would drop back into a deeper role whenever the visitors gained possession with Giakoumakis remaining up top on his own.
That tactic would change whenever the home side were in the ascendency with both players leading the line as they attempted to unlock the Ukrainians stubborn defensive line. Overall, the plan didn’t quite have the desired effect.
Shakhtar Donetsk proved they are a difficult team to break down in Glasgow’s East End and in Mykhaylo Mudryk they possess a superstar in the making who is incredibly dangerous on the break.
The electric winger was by far the best player on the pitch and was a constant menace down the left-hand side. Excellent with the ball at his feet, Mudryk produced a real moment of magic in the second half to secure the point his side needed to secure Europa League football, at the very least.
The 21-year-old showcased his searing pace as he charged past Cameron Carter-Vickers on the counter before cutting inside and drilling the ball into the top corner of the net from outside the box. He then laid the ball on a plate for Sikan, who managed to miss the target with the goals at his mercy after taking a heavy touch.
Mudryk’s all-round performance outlined just how highly-rated he is and it’s easy to see why he is attracting strong interest from some of Europe’s top clubs. Could we see him plying his trade in the English Premier League next season?
Wretched home record extended
Celtic’s record run of eight home games without a victory in the Champions League group stages has now been extended following this latest draw.
You have to go back NINE years to the 2013/14 campaign for the last time the Scottish champions managed to register a victory in front of their own supporters - a 2-1 win over Ajax.
Almost a decade later, the majority of fans who attended last night’s match at Parkhead would have believed this was Celtic’s best chance to finally bring that wretched run to an end but they were left disappointed on another massively frustrating night.
The current crop of players will have expected better from themselves throughout their European campaign this season and this performance was simply a case of so close and yet so far as they were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.