Celtic’s European campaign is over after a 1-1 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk at Parkhead.
While a 2-0 defeat to RB Leipzig earlier this month put paid to Celtic’s hopes of reaching the Champions League last 16, they knew that a win against Shakhtar would keep them in the hunt for third place in Group F and a Europa League knockout play-off spot. Anything less, however, and their European adventure would come to a premature end.
Having seen their side draw 1-1 with Shakhtar in Warsaw, dominating much of the game but failing to take their chances, Celtic fans had reason to hope that they could go one better on home soil. That hope only grew when, 34 minutes into a cagey first half, Sead Haksabanovic roared up the left flank and crossed to Liel Abada, whose initial shot was blocked only for Giorgos Giakoumakis to score on the follow-up.
Celtic largely contained Shakhtar’s counter-attacking threat before the break, though Mykhaylo Mudryk, the visitors’ main threat, got in behind on the left and went one-on-one with Joe Hart not long after Giakoumakis had netted the opener. Mudryk tried to dink the ball over the Celtic goalkeeper, but Hart stood tall and made an excellent save.
It was a different story after the restart, however. Reo Hatate lost the ball in midfield with 58 minutes on the clock and Danylo Sikan, having only just come on as a substitute, played in Mudryk, who roared forwards and smashed an angled shot into the roof of the net.
Sikan produced one of the misses of the season around the 70-minute mark when Mudryk tried to return the favour. Having hurdled a tackle from Cameron Carter-Vickers, Mudryk squared to his teammate who, completely unmarked five yards out and confronted with an empty net, somehow contrived to squeeze his shot wide.
From there, the two sides traded chances but, despite a presentable opportunity for Matt O’Riley late on, neither could find a winner. Celtic are now guaranteed to finish bottom of the group no matter what happens against Real Madrid in their last Champions League match of the season, while Shakhtar, despite RB Leipzig’s shock win against Real, can still progress to the last 16 on head-to-head if they beat the Bundesliga side in their final group game.
Celtic fail to make dominance count. Once again, Angeball showed signs of promise in the Champions League. Celtic were especially authoritative in the first half but, even accounting for Shakhtar’s second-half fightback, the hosts created far more chances and ended with 15 shots to their opponents’ eight.
Unfortunately, one again, they failed to convert their attacking endeavour into a favourable scoreline. It’s been a season of harsh lessons for Celtic in Europe and this was no different.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Mykhaylo Mudryk (Shakhtar). Mudryk has drawn admiring glances from some of Europe’s leading clubs as a result of his outstanding performances in the Champions League this season. It’s not hard to see why.
Even when Shakhtar found themselves constricted in the first half, Mudryk was constantly threatening to wriggle through Celtic’s defence. He was always the most likely to nab an equaliser and, were it not for Sikan’s nightmare miss, he would have got an assist as well.
Celtic: Hart 7, Juranovic 7, Carter-Vickers 5, Jenz 6, Taylor 6, Abada 6, O’Riley 6, Hatate 5, Haksabanovic 6, Furuhashi 5, Giakoumakis 7
Subs: Maeda 6, Mooy 5, Forrest 6, Turnbull 5
Shakhtar: Trubin 7, Taylor 6, Bondar 5, Matviienko 5, Mykhailichenko 6, Stepanenko 5, Zubkov 4, Bondarenko 5, Sudakov 6, Mudryk 8, Traore 4
Subs: Sikan 4, Petriak N/A, Kryvtsov N/A
34’ GOAL! In a flash, Celtic are ahead. Haksabanovic screams up the left flank and whips in a cross which falls to Abada. His shot is blocked but, on the rebound, Giakoumakis thrashes home.
41’ BIG SAVE! Mudryk gets in behind on the left and his pace takes him one-on-one with Hart. He tries to lift one over the Celtic goalkeeper, but Hart makes the stop.
53’ HUGE LET-OFF! Celtic’s defence gets in a muddle and Lassina Traore drags a shot across the face of goal. Oleksandr Zubkov ghosts in at the far post, but can only hit the side-netting from close range.
58’ GOAL! And, just like that, Shakhtar are back on terms. Hatate loses the ball in midfield and the visitors counter-attack at speed. Sikan plays in Mudryk, who thunders a shot into the roof of the net.
71’ TERRIBLE MISS! Wow. That’s a bad one. Mudryk gets in behind again, vaulting a tackle from Carter-Vickers, and squares to Sikan unmarked five yards out. Somehow he manages to poke his shot wide of the upright, leaving his teammates with their hands on their heads.
87’ CHANCE GOES BEGGING! James Forrest picks out O’Riley in a perfect position inside the area, but he can only guide a shot wide of the far post.