CELTIC 2 WOLFSBURG 1
TWO excellent finishes from Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie gave Brendan Rodgers his first taste of victory at Celtic Park.
The Hoops youngster struck in each half to overcome a superb German team who showed the form that saw them reach the Champions League quarter-finals last season.
The vocal crowd which filled the new standing section gave a rapturous reception to their new manager, as did the rest of the crowd in Paradise before kick-off.
However, they were silenced, albeit briefly, when the Bundesliga giants took the lead in the 11th minute with a deflected shot from Daniel Caligiuri.
However, Gregor equalised 10 minutes later with a brilliant right-foot drive which swept past the helpless keeper from the edge of the box.
The confrontation against such high quality opposition was a wonderful test before the Hoops attempt to overturn Lincoln Red Imps’ 1-0 first leg advantage in the second leg of the Champions :League qualifier in Glasgow on Wednesday.
Rodgers’ team began at a high tempo, with Stuart Armstrong at the centre of everything. But it was the visitors who took the lead against the run of play as Caligiuri’s long shot took a wicked deflection off Eoghan O’Connell and zipped past Craig Gordon.
Erik Sviatchenko was also forced off early on after suffering a head knock in a clash with the Wolfsburg keeper. The Dane was down for a while as he received treatment before being replaced by Kristoffer Ajer as a precaution.
Celtic then deservedly levelled through McGregor. His attempted pass to Moussa Dembele rebounded back at his feet and he gave Diego Benaglio no chance with a wicked drive in the 21st minute.
A misplaced passback from Mikael Lustig to Gordon presented Didavi with a chance, but the keeper saved well at the attacker’s feet. New Bhoy Dembele then forced a scrambled save from Benaglio, who parried his effort wide of the post.
The Hoops came out for the restart with an avalanche of changes to the line-up as the new manager utilised the depth of his squad.
Celtic almost caught the German side out early after the turnaround following a quick one-two between Christie and Nadir Ciftci, but the Turkish frontman’s drive was saved by replacement keeper Koen Casteels.
The home fans were cheering again just after the hour mark when Christie put them ahead following some neat footwork. The young Highlander got the break of the ball and made the most of the opportunity by slotting it home with power and precision.
Now it’s a case of bring on those Red Imps in midweek – we’ve got a score to settle!
TEAM: Gordon (sub: Fasan 46); Lustig (sub: Fisher 46), Sviatchenko (sub: Ajer 18; sub:McCart 76]), O’Connell (sub: Ambrose 46), Tierney (sub: Janko 46); Roberts (sub: Rogic 46), McGregor (sub:Forrest 46), Brown (sub: Henderson 46), Armstrong (sub: Allan 46); Griffiths (sub: Christie 46), Dembele (sub: Ciftci 46)