A LAMENTABLE stoppage-time penalty-kick attempt by Giorgos Giakoumakis prevented Celtic from achieving the win that would have put them on top of the Premiership for 24 hours.
The Greek striker saw his tame effort from the spot easily saved by Livingston keeper Max Stryjek in the goalless draw at Parkhead.
A goal at that stage would have put pressure on Rangers before today’s early kick-off against Motherwell at Fir Park. As it was, Steven Gerrard’s men came back from a goal down to hammer the home side 6-1 to maintain their place at the pinnacl, four points clear of Ange Postecoglou’s outfit.
WHACK…Kyogo Furuhashi gets a slap to the head from Livingston defender Ayo Obileye.
SEEING RED…referee Bobby Madden banishes offender Obileye as Kyogo Furuhashi lies on the turf.
Giakoumakis, in only his second start since his £2.5million arrival from Dutch club VVV-Venlo in the summer, had been far from convincing all the way through and it was a surprise he was allowed to take the spot-kick.
Livi defender Ayo Obileye lost the plot when he struck Kyogo Furuhashi in an off-the-ball incident that left referee Bobby Madden with no alternative to issue a red card and award the Hoops a penalty.
However, Giakoumakis’ awful effort was mopped up by Stryjek who later admitted: “I was confident of making the save.”
It was only the second attempt on target from the home side in a fairly lacklustre performance that lacked penetration and creativity. The Polish keeper had been beaten by a drive from Anthony Ralston in the first-half, but defender Jack Fitzwater rescued the situation with a header off the line.
SPOT OF BOTHER…Giorgos Giakoumakis watches keeper Max Stryjek save his feeble penalty-kick.
HERO AND ZERO…Max Stryjek is applauded by his team-mates as Giorgos Giakoumakis reflects on a missed opportunity.
Postecoglou’s side enjoyed over 80 per cent of the possession, but just couldn’t take advantage with the visitors packing their penalty area for the entire game.
Amazingly, Celtic have failed to score against the West Lothian outfit in three hours of football and have dropped five points to them after losing 1-0 at the Tony Macaroni stadium last month.
A clearly disappointed Postecoglou said: “The final five minutes, the whole afternoon was just frustrating for us. We knew we wanted to create opportunities for ourselves – we had those opportunities, but, unfortunately, couldn’t take them.
“It was just one of those days. We created enough opportunities to win. We moved the ball well and found a way through 11 players sitting deep, but just couldn’t put the ball in the net.”
CELTIC VIEW…Ange Postecoglou witnesses his players toil against Livi.
Reflecting on Giakoumakis’ penalty howler, he added: “It’s a part of football. I’m sure he’ll dust himself off and overcome the disappointment.
“It was my decision to put Giakoumakis on penalties, it’s on me. He wasn’t on the pitch when we got the last one, but he was the designated taker on this occasion.”
The fans expected to see Josip Juranovic take the award after his 100 per cent record with two conversions against Real Betis and St Johnstone, but the Greek striker took the responsibility and completed a miserable afternoon with his weak attempt.
IN WITH A SHOUT…Livi boss David Martindale and assistant Marvin Bartley watch their team shut out Celtic again.
Beaming Livi manager David Martindale, speaking to Sky Sports, said: “A point is fantastic. I was really, really pleased with the clean sheet. Delighted for the boys.
“It’s extremely satisfying and pleasing, but credit must go to the players. It’s probably about the calmest I’ve been in a game. We limited Celtic to crosses from wide areas. I don’t think Max Stryjek – other than the penalty – had a shot to save.
“It would have been an injustice had the penalty gone in. Credit to Max, he’s come up with a big save. My players didn’t deserve to leave here with nothing. They were brilliant.”