ANGE POSTECOGLOU is absolutely correct to say a club the size of Celtic deserves to be competing at Champions League level.
We were all aware of the fine margins in this arena between success and nowhere and there were Hoops players experiencing football among the European elite for the first time in their careers.
It’s also worth remembering that for three of the Hoops’ J-League arrivals, Kyogo Furuhashi, Reo Hatate and Daizen Maeda, it’s a novel experience just sampling football in the UK.
We can take all of that on board, but one thing which veers towards the unfathomable was the players’ inability to create anything from the many deadball kicks that came their way against Shakhtar Donetsk last night.
DISAPPOINTED AND DETERMINED…Ange Postecoglou gives his views after the game.
The Hoops were awarded EIGHT corner-kicks. Can anyone remember any one of them putting pressure on the Ukrainian defence?
Sead Haksabanovic failed to clear the first defender with one of the early attempts from the left. Substitute David Turnbull took the eighth and last in the fading moments from the right. Bewilderingly, he also failed to get the ball past the first defender. Bluntly, that’s inexcusable.
There was an alarming lack of ingenuity or improvisation with all of the efforts. No spark of inspiration. It was like watching a nightmarish scenario on a loop.
Free-kicks, too, were squandered throughout the evening in a game in which Celtic knew they had to win to have any chance of remaining in Europe after the turn of the year.
The visitors soaked them all up and, ironically, scored their goal a mere TWENTY-ONE SECONDS after Matt O’Riley fluffed a deadball delivery.
WALLOP…Shakhtar Donetsk dangerman Mykhaylo Mudryk capitalises on a wasted Celtic free-kick by thumping in the equaliser with Cameron Carter-Vickers too late to intervene and Reo Hatate appearing to get out of the way of the thunderous drive.
The midfielder nonchalantly lifted one towards the Ukrainians’ goal, it was too easily dealt with, it fell to Reo Hatate who gave away possession with a telegraphed pass which was intercepted and dangerman Mykhaylo Mudryk was sent galloping clear.
Josip Juranovic, who had been tormented in Warsaw by the latest boy wonder, was too easily taken out of the equation as the winger cut inside onto his right foot and lashed a 25-yard drive into the roof of Joe Hart’s net.
Lesson learned? We hope so.
It’s difficult enough for any team seeking success on this high-level platform, but it is inexplicable that Celtic should forfeit so many potential goalscoring opportunities in such a wasteful manner.
It looks as though Gavin Strachan has some overtime to put in at Lennoxtown with O’Riley, Haksabanovic, Turnbull and Co in the coming weeks.