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MATCHWINNER FORREST

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SK VORWARTS STEYR 0 CELTIC 1

JAMES FORREST, who hit a career best 17 goals for Celtic last season, was the man who got the crucial winner in Austria this evening.

The winger got the Hoops’ tour off to a victory when he struck with 18 minutes to go at the Life Radio Arena in Steyr.

Forrest’s goal capped a good night’s work which saw Jonny Hayes’ return from the broken leg he sustained against Dundee on Boxing Day, Marvin Compper getting 45 minutes and new signing Lewis Morgan making a fine debut.

Brendan Rodgers also managed to get game-time into the legs of 20 outfield players and keepers Scott Bain and Connor Hazard.

Newly-promoted to the second-tier of the Austrian league, SK Vorwarts were competitive and, as far as an exercise goes, it was perfect.

The major interest in the first-half was on Compper and Morgan.

The German defender made just one 83-minute competitive appearance against Morton in the Scottish Cup in March after his £1.2million signing from RB Leipzig.

Ryan Christie also started having spent 18 months on loan at Aberdeen, while teenage debutants Stephen Welsh and Kerr McInroy, from the Development Squad, were given their chance to shine.

Compper looked decent at the back and had a header over during his first-half effort, but it was Morgan who really caught the eye with some clever running and touches and a strike just before half-time which almost broke the deadlock.

It was all-change at the restart. but the Hoops’ French trio – Moussa Dembele, Odsonne Edouard and Olivier Ntcham – were required to get stripped as Rodgers gave them the night off.

However, the likes of Forrest, Hayes, Kristoffer Ajer, Kieran Tierney, Callum McGregor and Kouassi Eboue entered the fray.

Scott Allan came close a couple of times, but it was Forrest who hit the winner when he raced through to thump a shot wide of the helpless keeper.

TEAM FIRST-HALF: Bain; Miller, Compper, Simunovic, Welsh; Brown, McInroy, Christie, Morgan; Sinclair, Griffiths.

TEAM SECOND-HALF: Bain (sub: Hazard 62); Hendry, Ajer, Tierney; Forrest, Kouassi, McGregor, Hayes, Henderson; Allan, Aitchison.

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