UEFA Cup holders Shakhtar Donetsk and former European Cup winners Celtic are in danger of seeing their Champions League hopes come to an early demise after disappointing results at home on Wednesday in their third qualifying round first leg matches.
Shakhtar Donetsk were held to a 2-2 draw at home by unheralded Romanian side Timisoara — the hosts had to rely on an 86th minute equalizer by Fernandinho to even get the draw — while Celtic’s new manager Tony Mowbray enjoyed a less than welcome competitive debut as his side lost 1-0 at home to Russian outfit Dynamo Moscow.
Another leading European side, Sporting Lisbon, will also travel away warily for the second leg next week as they were held 0-0 by former England boss Steve McClaren’s Dutch team Twente.
Timisoara’s hero on the night against a side coached by fellow Romanian Mircea Lucescu — who was taken ill and couldn’t be in the dugout — was Gheorghe Bucur, who scored a brace.
Shakhtar — who gave Ukraine their first European title earlier this year when they beat Werder Bremen 2-1 in extra-time — should probably have won the game but for Fernandinho to miss a host of chances before redeeming himself.
The hosts also hit the bar twice through their two goalscoring heroes from the UEFA Cup final triumph, Luis Adriano and Jadson.
Celtic could have no such complaints, as they barely threatened Dynamo’s goal and while Fernandinho was able to at least leave the pitch having scored Celtic’s new signing Marc Antoine Fortune had a nightmare and was removed from the fray well before full-time.
Celtic had kept a clean sheet in their four preseason games but it took Dynamo just seven minutes to break down the Hoops defense when Alexander Korobin prodded home past Artur Boruc to give the Russians a vital away goal to take into next week’s second leg in Moscow.
However, Mowbray — who left the West Brom managerial post last month to return to the hotseat at a club he played for between 1991 and 1995 — believes that his side can only benefit from their first competitive match and overturn the tables in Moscow next week.
“I believe we have the quality to go there and cause them problems,” Mowbray said.
“We will wait and see if we can take some of our chances when they come next week,” added the 45-year-old, who gained great credit for the way West Brom played football even if they were relegated straight back to the Championship.
His Russian counterpart, Andrey Kobelev, whose side have the benefit of having already played 15 league matches this season and lie fifth in the table, doesn’t think the tie is over either.
“The match was very hard for us and Celtic are a very good team who are always playing in the Champions League. “We can’t relax as it’s important to win both legs,” said the Russian.
Twente will be counting their blessings in what is McClaren’s first ever foray into Champions League territory as a manager in his own right.
The Dutch side had goalkeeper Sander Boschker sent-off in the first-half for a foul on veteran Portuguese striker Helder Postiga, but then the hosts Joao Moutinho then had his penalty saved by Boschker’s replacement Nikolai Mihailov.
Twente could have taken a valuable victory with two chances in the dying minutes, Blaise Nkufo the guiltiest party having done the difficult part of rounding the ’keeper and then missing the target.