Celtic reaction: Leeds United scouts, interesting presence in press box and Rangers player rivalled for horror moment at Parkhead

We pick out some observations from Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw between Celtic and Shakhtar Donetsk ...
Rangers substitute Peter Van Vossen misses an open goal at Celtic Park in November 1996.Rangers substitute Peter Van Vossen misses an open goal at Celtic Park in November 1996.
Rangers substitute Peter Van Vossen misses an open goal at Celtic Park in November 1996.

One of the worst misses

Poor Danylo Sikan. It might be stretching it to claim he could claim an assist but he did shovel the ball into Mykhailo Mudryk’s path before the mercurial No 10 then went on his merry way, running from near the half-way line to the edge of the Celtic box and planting a shot past Joe Hart.

Nothing, though, can deflect from the moment after 72 minutes when Sikan somehow managed to put the ball past the post when presented with an open goal. Mudryk was attempting to return the favour – here, pal, have a goal too.

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Unfortunately for the sub, he took a touch and then … watched in disbelief as the ball rolled past Joe Hart’s left hand post. He seemed almost paralysed as the ball trundled by the wrong side of the woodwork at the same end of the ground where Peter van Vossen endured his own horror moment against Celtic for Rangers in 1996.

Like Sikan, Van Vossen had been set up by a teammate who then regretted not simply doing the business himself. Jorg Albertz squared the ball for Van Vossen after the pair broke through the Celtic defence. The Dutch striker took a touch and then … somehow managed to hit the ball over the bar. Same end of the ground too.

This was five years before Sikan was even born but now he and Van Vossen are inextricably linked. Whose miss was worse? Most Scots will probably still say the one by Chris Iwelumo.

Shakhtar manager Igor Jovicevic was certainly not about to throw the young Sikan under a bus. “Sikan feels sad because he didn’t score that chance,” he said afterwards. “But he is part of the team and this is football. We have to support him. We are a family. All the boys have already approached him. Because it is difficult to leave Celtic Park with your head held high and we did it.”

He certainly seems set to be treated more sympathetically than Van Vossen, whose name is now synonymous with bad misses in Scottish football despite winning 31 caps for Holland. Doing ‘a Sikan’ hasn’t got quite the same ring.

The scouted wonderkid

It was certainly a better night for Sikan’s fellow 21-year-old Mykhailo Mudryk, who lit up the game with a fine individual goal and generally looked a class above everyone else on the pitch. Our mole tells us that Leeds United scouts attended the game last night. Well, the Yorkshire side certainly are in dire need of a boost after losing their last four games.

Celtic’s Matt O’Riley has been attracting interest from down south and did well enough last night but any scout worth their salt cannot have left Celtic Park without Mudryk’s name scribbled on their pad. The thing is, he’s already outstripped a club like Leeds United. Such is his talent, we’re surely talking Manchester City if it is to be the Premier League in England. He must be the brightest young talent in European football.

Welcome addition to press box

After his experience the previous day when one reporter asked for his thoughts on the £60 cost for an away ticket for Shakhtar Donetsk fans, Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou might have been wary when he saw the fearless veteran former Guardian journalist Ed Vulliamy turn up in post-match press conference.

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Vulliamy has made his name reporting from war-torn destinations such as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq. He also happened to be based in America at 9/11. Postecoglou could rest easy, however.

Vulliamy, who has just returned from Kharkiv, was more interested in the incredible story of Shakhtar Donetsk’s continued involvement in top level football despite the ongoing war in the club’s homeland. They haven't been able to play at their home ground for years.

We mustn’t, therefore, forget the flipside to Celtic’s deep disappointment. Shakhtar heading into matchday six with still the possibility of qualifying for the last 16 is a remarkable achievement. As Igor Jovicevic, the Shakhtar manager, stressed afterwards: "The most important thing we demonstrated was the character - proper Ukrainian character. The character of fighters, fighters for freedom. We believe our players are heroes."

Vulliamy’s book, When Words Fail – A Life with Music, War and Peace, is highly recommended. He was a very welcome addition to the press box.

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