THE heavens opened over the east end of Glasgow as James Forrest was honoured in Paradise last night.

The evergreen Celtic winger played for 49 minutes in his own testimonial match against Spanish cracks Athletic Bilbao in front of a healthy crowd.

It may have started slowly with most of the home players performing with the handbrake on, but the occasion exploded to life in an entertaining second period.

Brendan Rodgers watched his team fight back twice with goals from Reo Hatate and Alexandro Bernabei before David Turnbull hit an exquisite winner.

The first hour swung from end to end with the Spaniards proving to be more than worthy opponents on Forrest’s big night.

Benji Siegrist was picking the ball out of his net inside two minutes after being left stranded by a whiplash 25-yard drive from Unai Gomez that zipped low into his left-hand corner.

ON THE CREST OF A WAVE…James Forrest acknowledges the Celtic supporters before the game.

The Spanish ace seized onto a slack pass inside from Hatate, steadied himself before taking aim and then lashed a vicious drive beyond the sprawling Swiss keeper who was standing in for Joe Hart and making a rare first-team start.

The Hoops looked way off the pace in the opening stages against lively visitors and even Callum McGregor, normally so poised and assured, put his defence in trouble with a wayward backpass, but Inaki Williams’ shot was charged down and cleared.

In the 11th minute there was a flash of genuine class from the treble winners when Daizen Maeda turned a ball inside to Hatate who picked out the lurking Kyogo Furuhashi finding a pocket of space in the box.

Last season’s 34-goal hitman whipped a vicious drive at goal, but keeper Unai Simon got down swiftly to push the ball aside.

Eight minutes later, Cameron Carter-Vickers’s last-minute block prevented the Spaniards from doubling their advantage. The comeback centre-back’s timing was perfect as he lunged in to divert a shot from Inaka off target as the danger signals flashed.

In the 24th minute, Brendan Rodgers’ winced as his team surrendered possession again, but on this occasion Siegrist was alert to dive full-length to beat away a rasping drive from Iker Muniain.

However, the hosts leveled in the 37th minute and it was all down to the positional sense and quick thinking of Hatate as he seized onto the ball about 30 yards out.

The Japanese international immediately headed for goal, veered left past two challenges and then struck an unstoppable low drive away from the diving Simon.

Amazingly, the visitors restore their lead EIGHTEEN seconds after taking the recentre. Iwata made a horrible mess of attempting to clear a straightforward delivery downfield.

Muniain latched onto his misplaced clearance, stepped inside the struggling makeshift right-back and then belted a powerful drive over Siegrist’s left shoulder for a startling response from the La Liga outfit.

Just before the interval, Maeda, who had spent most of the opening period covering the exposed left side, burst into the game as he raced in from the flank and unleashed a thunderous angled right-foot drive.

Simon reacted well to push the effort away with both hands and his defence took care of the rebound.

As Rodgers had promised, he made wholesale changes at the start of the second-half as replaced an entire team with the exception of Forrest.

On came Scott Bain, Anthony Ralston, Carl Starfelt, Liam Scales, Alexandro Bernabei, Matt O’Riley, Odin Thiago Holm, Turnbull, Yang Hyun-jun and Oh Hyeon-gyu.

In the 49th minute, significantly Forrest’s shirt number, the man of the evening was taken off to rousing applause from the appreciative audience and replaced by Liel Abada.

In the 57th minute, the Israeli winger proved his goal threat when he snapped onto a bad pass from the opposition, took a touch and then attempted to arc a 25-yard effort towards the keeper’s left-hand corner of the net.

Simon took off on an athletic swoop across his line to beat the ball away for a fine save.

The clouds burst over the east end of Glasgow as rain lashed down on the combatants making control on the ground decidely dodgy.

Left-back Bernabei levelled in the 67th minute with a goal any striker would have been delighted to claim.

The Argentinian left-back, who scored the late winner against Gambo Osaka in the Japanese tour, set the move in motion with a touch inside to Turnbull.

It was pushed to O’Riley who shifted it in front of Bernabei, racing in at an angle, and he cleverly swept the ball wide of the outrushing Simon.

Two minutes later, the Hoops took the lead and once again the lead-up play would have hard-to-please gaffer Rodgers purring in satisfaction.

Ralston powered in from the right touchline to pass inside to Oh. The South Korean nimbley clipped a pass inside and Turnbull, wearing the captain’s armband, displayed calm and poise and he selected a place high in the net and found the intended area with an emphatic finish.

It was a fitting sublime finish to an evening that saw an unassuming Celtic servant take centre stage.

FIRST-HALF TEAM: Siegrist; Iwata, Carter-Vickers, Nawrocki, Taylor; Kwon, McGregor, Hatate; Forrest, Kyogo, Maeda.

SECOND-HALF TEAM: Bain; Ralston, Starfelt, Scales, Bernabei; O’Riley, Holm, Turnbull; Forrest (sub: Abada 49), Oh, Yang.

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