Scottish champions Celtic saw their slim hopes of playing European football in the New Year come to an end on Tuesday night, having been held to a frustrating draw by Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk at Parkhead.
While the Old Firm outfit’s fate in the Champions League had previously been sealed with progression to the knockout stages already off the table, Ange Postecoglou’s side had gone into last night’s encounter knowing that a win would keep them in the race for third place, with a crack at the Europa League still on offer.
It would prove to be another disappointing evening, however, despite a largely encouraging display from the Hoops, with the club’s long-awaited return to Europe’s premier competition having only yielded two points thus far from their opening five group stage games.
An alternate outcome had appeared on the cards as the in-form Giorgos Giakoumakis – who had netted four goals in his last three league games heading into the meeting with Igor Jovicevic’s men – slotted home just before the break for only the home side’s third goal in the tournament so far this season.
That lead would ultimately prove short-lived as the ever-dangerous Mykahylo Mudryk fired his side level in sensational fashion on the hour mark, with the fleet-footed forward once again proving a thorn in the side of the Hoops having previously netted in similarly stunning style when the two clubs met in Warsaw.
The 21-year-old then teed up substitute Danylo Sikan only for the latter man to inexplicably fail to convert with the goal at his mercy, while at the other end playmaker Matt O’Riley saw his late effort curl agonisingly wide of the post as both sides were ultimately left with a share of the spoils.
Amid that overall disappointment, a key villain on the night for Postecoglou and co was that of striker Kyogo Furuhashi, with the Japanese international once again failing to fire on the European stage, having squandered a guilt-edged chance midway through the second half after producing a “tame effort” on goal, in the words of pundit Chris Sutton.
Such profligacy has been the story of the Hoops’ continental campaign thus far, with the Celtic boss previously suggesting that his side had paid the “ultimate price” for failing to convert their chances, following the recent defeat to RB Leipzig at Paradise.
Although the former Yokohama head coach only recently defended that man Kyogo for his wasteful nature – with the 27-year-old having failed to score in the competition thus far – it may well have been a source of frustration to see the forward be unable to prove the doubters wrong.
The former Vissel Kobe man had been partnered alongside fellow striker Giakoumakis in attack, although simply played ‘second fiddle‘ to the Greek marksman, in the words of The Scotsman’s Mark Atkinson.
That limp showing ultimately saw the diminutive ace record a match rating of just 6.4, as per SofaScore, with that having been the second-worst rating among his teammates on the night, before he was subsequently hooked in the closing stages.
A game and seemingly a group stage to forget for Kyogo, the £18k-per-week menace has simply been unable to transfer his lethal domestic form – which has seen the 16-cap gem score seven goals in just nine league games – to the European stage.