GIORGOS GIAKOUMAKIS rifled in his first-ever goal in the Champions League last night – but the Greek hitman had nothing to celebrate afterwards.
The powerhouse attacker pounced on a deflection from a Liel Abada shot to tuck the ball under exposed Shakhtar Donetsk keeper Anatolyi Trubin to give Celtc a 34th-minute lead at a joyous Parkhead.
The stadium erupted in delight with the fans witnessing their first European goal under the lights in the east end of Glasgow this time out after blanks against Real Madrid and RB Leipzig.
PICK IT OUT…Giorgos Giakoumakis pounces to fire Celtic into the lead.
However, Ange Postecoglou’s men blew the opportunity to pile on the misery and the Ukrainians’ main threat, flying winger Mykhaylo Mudryk, was allowed a free run at Josip Juranovic after a Matt O’Riley free-kick had been dealt with in the 58th minute.
The much sought-after youngster hurtled forward before cutting in onto his right foot to blitz a drive high over the clawing fingers of Joe Hart into the top right-hand corner of the net.
And that’s the way the scoreline remained to dump the Hoops out of Europe for another season, a miserable conclusion to an evening that promised so much when Giakoumakis claimed his eighth goal of the campaign.
MUSCLING IN…Giorgos Giakoumakis celebrates with the Celtic fans.
Quizzed on his immediate thoughts, the Greek international marksman replied: “It’s mixed feelings, mostly they’re negative because we didn’t win the game.
“We were dreaming about this moment to win a game in front of our fans to celebrate together, even if we couldn’t pass through to the next stage of the Champions League.
“I really wanted this victory for us and the fans. I think we gave everything, but we didn’t take our chances.”
Giakoumakis, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “In the end, I scored my first goal in the Champions League and I was dreaming of that since I was a boy, but you don’t think of your goal.
“You think about making the fans happy who were unbelievable again with a full stadium once more and we’re really grateful for that.
“We could have scored more and if you do then you have more possibilities to win the game.
EYES TO HEAVEN…Giorgos Giakoumakis looks skywards after another chance goes abegging.
“We should score more and now it’s done. We have to prepare ourselves and give everything in the league and the Cup.
“Then we must make sure that if we win the league, we are here next season wiser and stronger.”
The curtain comes down on the all-too-brief European encounter against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu a week today.
It’s been a bumpy ride for everyone – the manager, the players and the supporters. Some painful lessons have been dished out along the way.
We can only hope they will be heeded in the future.