Celtic 1-1 Shakhtar Donetsk – Goodbye Europe – again

And so we are out of Europe again. Once again, there is the big unanswered question which puzzles friend and foe alike, (and even journalists and TV pundits), which is how it is that a club with such a stadium, such a crowd, such an atmosphere, and even such a pedigree in Europe (admittedly a long time ago now) – just how is it that Celtic cannot play well in Europe, when so many other teams of a smaller fan base, can? How do we account for it?

In truth, we did not play badly last night. No-one let us down, and the players were as downcast as we were. We are all in this together. We played well enough in the other games as well, even the defeat to Real Madrid in the first game, and there is nothing to be ashamed about. We went out “with our heads held high” as the horrible cliche would put it.

The lesson to be learned is that, at this level, we must take EVERY opportunity to score. We would have won all five games if we had taken all out chances. It is so annoying to see the ball being blasted against the goalkeeper, or just the post or just over the bar. In Europe EVERY chance must be taken. Conversely, NO mistake will go unpunished at the back. The goal that we lost was well taken, but the opponent was allowed to run too far in circumstances when a tackle was not entirely out of the question – and the finger can be pointed at several defenders in that respect – but they will be aware if it themselves.

The tactics in the last 10 minutes were questionable. I remember Gordon Strachan once describing the 80th minute as “kitchen sink” time, when if you need a goal, you throw everything at them and get the ball into the penalty box as often as possible. It is no time for fancy football.

A goal was what was required, and it was not that we didn’t have an aerial presence in the box. “Gorgeous Gorgios” showed what he could do with a ball in the air on Saturday, and he was already on a high after scoring last night. I felt that he might have just done it last night with the proper service.

But it didn’t happen. What of the future? First of all, we should enjoy our trip to Madrid next week, which we should look upon as a learning experience for next year. Ange will still be around next year, we hope, and it is time to LEARN about Europe. A European campaign is long overdue for this mighty club.

And we have enough to keep us going in Scotland as well. A treble, nothing less, must be our aim – and such things do not come easily. Before that absurd World Cup break and the trip to Australia which I crave your forgiveness for not getting too excited about, we have four League games against teams whom we should defeat. That does not mean that they are to be underestimated. We will do well to win all four. That has to be our immediate priority, starting at Livi on Sunday.

Oh, and last night, I thought Celtic did very well with the Ukrainian children, and the atmosphere was first class for a superb game of football. And a good referee, and no VAR! Not actually a bad night – but so disappointing!

David Potter

About Author

I am Celtic author and historian and write for The Celtic Star. I live in Kirkcaldy and have followed Celtic all my life, having seen them first at Dundee in March 1958. I am a retired teacher and my other interests are cricket, drama and the poetry of Robert Burns.


  1. Celtic/Ange, need to learn to balance a team out between defence and attack.

    Our biggest weakness at CL level & in Europe in general is being caught short at the back and countered; its no accident!

    Opposition managers know how we’ll set up to play and set their teams up accordingly.

    To play football the Glasgow Celtic way is okay in theory, it romanticises an attacking approach that all football fans love to see, but its not practicable, clearly!

    Until Ange or future managers of the club address this gaping weakness in our approach to European competition, we’ll continue to be the whipping boys!

    All credit to Shakhtar Donetsk and their amazing manager, they play to their strengths and to counter opponents weaknesses, and it works beautifully for them

  2. EVERY chance David? I mean has any team Ever, converted every chance they had? Tongue in cheek surely.