CELTIC 0 LIVINGSTON 0
GIORGOS GIAKOUMAKIS blew the chance to propel Celtic into pole position in the Premiership when he lamentably missed a stoppage-time penalty-kick against Livingston at Parkhead this afternoon.
The Greek frontman was a surprise choice to take the spot-kick following Josip Juranovic’s 100 per record with strikes against Real Betis and St Johnstone.
Giakoumakis, who had struggled throughout the encounter to make any impact, stepped up to take the kick and his powderpuff effort was easily saved by Max Stryjek.
NO HIDING PLACE…Giorgos Giakoumakis can’t bear the look after his penalty-kick miss.
Ayo Obileye had presented Celtic with the perfect opportunity to score their first goal against Livi in over three hours when he thumped Kyogo Furuhashi in an off-the-ball incident.
The defender had to go and it was a stonewall penalty-kick.
The Hoops fans at last thought their team would get their reward for a day of hard toil, but the cumbersome Greek failed miserably from 12 yards.
A win, of course, would have put Ange Postecoglou side on top of the table for the first time since his arrival.
However, there are no excuses after failing to show any ingenuity against the West Lothian spoilsports who have now, remarkably, taken five points off the Hoops this season.
The question will persist, though, as to why Giakoumakis was entrusted with the award when Juranovic had made such a good job of his two kicks.
WHACK…Kyofo Furuhashi reels after being slapped on the head by Livingston defender Ayo Obileye.
SPOT OF BOTHER…Giorgos Giakoumakis watches Livi keeper Max Stryjek save his timid penalty-kick.
It may have been understandable if the £2.5million forward had been in scintillating form that would have engendered confidence, but he had been enduring a distinctly average showing which was matched only by his lack of prowess from the spot.
Inside the first 10 minutes of a stuffy encounter, Anthony Ralston sent in three inviting crosses from the right, but the nearest the Hoops came to the breakthrough goal was denied by Nicky Devlin who booted clear from almost under his crossbar.
It was clear Livi had arrived in the east end of Glasgow without any thoughts of getting involved in a sporting spectacle. David Martindale’s team filtered into defence right from the start and were happy to be camped in their own territory when the Hoops had possession.
They were content to soak up the pressure and attempt to hit on the break. It worked for them in West Lothian last month, but it didn’t add much to the entertainment value. Unfortunately, due to Giakoumakis’ ineptitude from 12 yards, it brought them a reward again today.
Celtic were doing their best to unlock the rearguard by raiding on the flanks with Ralston and Liel Abada busy on the right and Filipe Jota on the left.
Keeper Stryjek displayed safe hands when he cut out a cross from Ralston with Giakoumakis waiting to pounce on any error.
HOLD ON…Giakoumakis restrains Livi’s red-card culprit Obileye after his assualt on Kyogo.
The rugged Obileye was fortunate not to be booked after a wayward studs-up challenge that left Abada writhing in pain. Surprisingly, referee Bobby Madden kept his cards in his pocket.
In the 36th minute, Nir Bitton was slow to react to an excellent pass from his Israeli international team-mate Abada and a reasonable chance was lost.
Five minutes later, Carl Starfelt was off target after he got his head to a right-wing free-kick from David Turnbull. His 12-yard effort flew harmlessly over the crossbar.
The Hoops were foiled a minute from the interval when Turnbull and Ralston combined to set up the right-back. His sizzling left-foot drive swept wide of Stryjek, but was cleared off the line by Jack Fitzwater.
It was the nearest Postecoglou’s men had come to breaking the Livi barrier in a frustrating first-half. In truth, it was more perspiration than inspiration and the guile and invention of the sidelined Tom Rogic was missing in the lead-up play.
The tempo and cutting edge that destroyed Hibs in a dazzking half-hour in midweek wasn’t on display, either, and the opposing keeper, apart from the intervention of Fitzwater, had been unduly worried in the opening 45 minutes.
The second-half opened with Abada setting up Giakoumakis who was just a shade too slow to react and his shot was charged down and cleared.
There was still a spark absent from the home side
OOPS…Giakoumakis sees Livi keeper Stryjek save his feeble spot-kick.
In the 58th minute, Kyogo Furuhashi replaced Starfelt who was limping, Bitton moved into central defence beside Carter-Vickers and, at the same time, Mikey Johnston came on for Abada with Jota shifting to the right.
It was still goalless on the 60-minute mark meaning the Hoops had failed to score against Livi in two and a half hours of football. It was a worrying statistic. Alas, it didn’t get any better at full-time.
Match official Madden enraged the home support yet again when Fitzwater clearly pulled back Johnston on the edge of the box, but the ref ignored the calls for a free-kick.
In the 66th minute, Jota had a fresh air swipe at a superb angled cross from Turnbull from a fabulous position. It was beginning to look like one of those days for Celtic.
HERO AND VILLIAN…Stryjek is congratulated by his Livi team-mates as Giakoumakis is left to reflect on his failed attempt.
In a rare foray forward, Alan Forrest, brother of Celtic’s James, had a shot diverted off target by Carter-Vickers for Livi’s third corner-kick of the contest.
With 10 minutes to go, frustration was growing among the fans, especially when Giakoumakis got in the way of a Josip Juranovic shot and diverted the ball past the post.
Two minutes later, James Forrest replaced Jota as Postecoglou had a last throw of the dice to find a way through the Livi back line.
Kyogo had an angled drive smuggled round the post by the keeper for a corner-kick that was sent over the bar by Ralston after a right-wing delivery by Turnbull.
END GAME…Giakoumakis can’t disguise his disappointment at the final whistle.
The fourth official signalled there were six minutes to be added-on and Obileye took centre stage with a crazy swipe at Kyogo that floored the Japanese frontman.
It was a certain penalty-kick and it was thoroughly disappointing to see misfiring Giakoumakis fail with a lacklustre effort which was easily saved.
Remarkably, Giakoumakis had the chance to atone with almost the last kick of the ball. Johnston whipped over a low cross from the left, Forrest mishit his effort and his sclaffed shot fell to the frontman. Unfortunately, he was caught on his heels and could only divert the ball wide of the left-hand post with the goal gaping.
That miss just about summed up the day for the unimpressive Greek – and Celtic.
TEAM: Hart: Ralston, Starfelt (sub: Kyogo 58), Carter-Vickers, Juranovic; Turnbull, McGregor, Bitton; Abada (sub: Johnston 58), Giakoumakis, Jota (sub: Forrest 82).