SHAKHTAR DONETSK 1 CELTIC 1
CELTIC got on the Champions League board in Warsaw tonight, but this was definitely two points dropped and not one achieved.
Ange Postecoglou watched his side set up a succession of chances and yet only one escaped the Ukrainian keeper and, alarmingly and amazingly, that was credited as an own goal.
The Hoops had two glorious opportunities to settle the encounter in the last five minutes – and substitutes Giorgos Giakoumakis and Daizen Maeda blow them both by failing to hit the target.
TOUCHLINE TORTURE…Ange Postecoglou watches wasteful Celtic pass up a sequence of chances.
In the 85th minute, Greg Taylor set up the Greek striker 12 yards from goal, but the powerhouse frontman hammered the ball wide when it looked as though he must hit the target. To be fair, his effort couldn’t have been more than a foot wide as the keeper stood helpless and rooted to the spot.
Three minutes later, it was the Japanese winger’s turn to spurn a chance when he was set up 10 yards out by Josip Juranovic, but once again he failed to make the goalkeeper work and sliced his shot wide. Once again, it’s accurate to point out he had to stretch every sinew of his frame to get on the end of the cross.
Ange Postecoglou could not hide his frustration on the touchline as he held his head in despair on both occasions. Those ‘lost’ two points could prove absolutely crucial at the conclusion of Group F in November.
It could have been so different for a dominant Parkhead outfit who went at their task straight from the kick-off with a terrifying verve and gusto.
Bewilderingly, it was stalemated at the interval after the Hoops had outclassed Shakhtar until the Ukrainians’ equaliser in the 29th minute.
Only moments beforehand, keeper Anatolyi Trubin had scrambled away a netbound effort from Moritz Jenz.
SO CLOSE…Moritz Jenz fires in a shot, but is denied by keeper Anatolyi Trubin.
Postecoglou had warned his players about the counter-attacking menace of their opponents, but, remarkably, Juranovic was caught on his heels when dangerman Mykhailo Mudryk was sent clear on the left.
The Croatian defender was never going to catch the Ukrainian speedster who raced into the box before walloping an effort over the advancing Joe Hart for the equaliser.
It was a classic suckerpunch and it definitely knocked the Hoops out of their stride for a worrying spell.
WALLOP…Joe Hart is left helpless by a ferocious drive from Mykhailo Mudryk for the equaliser with Josip Juranovic looking on.
Marian Shved thought he had netted a second, but the effort was disallowed for an earlier offside and then the former Hoops flop brought Hart into action when he blazed in a dipping drive from just outside the box.
The keeper reacted splendidly to dive to his right to get a strong hand to the ball to divert the attempt round the post. That was the second and final attempt the Ukrainians had on target all night.
It was an astonishing turnaround in fortunes in an encounter where Celtic had opened the scoring in the tenth minute and it was seven minutes before their opponents could get out of their own half.
In fact, it took a superb reflex save from Turbin in exactly one minute and 10 seconds to prevent Kyogo Furuhashi from scoring a sensational opener.
The Japanese frontman was sent racing in on the exposed keeper after a neat pass from Matt O’Riley and it looked as though his slick low shot was heading for its intended destination until the netminder thrust out a left foot to deflect it to safety.
DENIED…Kyogo Furuhashi is thwarted by keeper Anatolyi Trubin just after the first minute.
However, he had no answer when Reo Hatate set up the early opener after some eye-catching lead-up play from Juranovic and new Bhoy Sead Haksabanovic.
The right-back sent a breathtaking long-range pass out to the Montenegro international who timed his pass into space with perfection for the galloping Hatate.
The astute midfielder whipped in an effort from a tight angle and it bamboozled the keeper on its way into the net. It took a nick off lunging defender Artem Bondarenko on its way and the Japanese ace will be denied the goal by the spoilsports at UEFA.
A word here about the quick-thinking of Kyogo. The frontman had the opportunity to apply the last touch practically on the goal-line, but he deliberately held back just in case he could have been flagged offside.
SMILES BETTER…Reo Hatate celebrates after playing a huge part in the Celtic goal.
PICK IT OUT…Kyogo Furuhashi is in the net as the Hoops celebrate the breakthrough strike in the tenth minute.
Postecoglou made a change at the restart with Maeda on for Haksabanovic, who had understandably tired, and within a minute keeper Trubin was diving desperately to his left to push away a low drive from Jota.
The Portuguese flyer then embarked on a wonderful solo run as he came in from the left, but his parting shot was blocked for a corner.
It was all one-way as the Ukrainian defenders were working overtime to try to hold out against a relentless green and white tide with Jota in the mood to create havoc
The inventive O’Riley tried his luck with a cunning 30-yard effort with his left foot, but once again the keeper got down smartly to his left to push the ball to safety.
Jota then went on another lung-bursting solo attempt when he interecpted a pass, skipped past three challenges and again saw his shot blocked by a desperate defender.
CAPTAIN’S ROLE…Callum McGregor turned in another superb shift in the team’s engine room.
In the 68th minute, the Hoops boss made a triple substitutions with Kyogo, Hatate and O’Riley making way for Giakoumakis, David Turnbull and Aaron Mooy. Within moments the three new arrivals combined before the Greek attacker hit an effort over the bar.
Then Giakoumakis failed when presented with a fabulous opportunity and a minute later Liel Abada came on for Jota who had worked tirelessly to break down the stubborn Ukrainians.
And Maeda had his dreadful miss when he was expected to hit the target and there was a late scare for Shakhtar when Mooy sent in a cute ball and Giakoumakis went for it with the keeper.
The ball broke clear and was rolling towards goal before a defender got back to tidy up the danger.
And so it ended in stalemate.
However, this was a contest where it would be fair to say Celtic annihilated Shakhtar Donetsk 1-1.
TEAM: Hart; Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Jenz, Taylor; O’Riley (sub: Mooy 68) McGregor, Hatate (sub: Turnbull 68); Haksabanovic (sub: Maeda 46), Kyogo (sub: Giakoumakis 68), Jota (sub: Abada 86).