IT won’t go down in the Parkhead pantheon but this was still a crucial first step as Celtic side set about righting the wrongs of their Champions League catastrophe against CFR Cluj. A result they would surely have signed for before kick-off, what else did we learn from a night which ended with Neil Lennon’s side with one foot in the Europa League group stages?


The first half was quite a comedown from all that Champions League stuff. Compared to an opponent in Cluj who pressed high and went toe-to-toe in a seven-goal thriller, the Swedish champions arrived in Scotland happy to sit in their shape and try to strangle the life out of this match. They were just about succeeding in that, if winning precious little in the way of style points, until the moment, 48 minutes in, when James Forrest caught Rasmus Lindkvist sleeping and fired in a right-foot shot which Oscar Linner couldn't keep out.

Seemingly unwilling to gamble too much on an away goal even after Odsonne Edouard’s second on the night gave Celtic a cushion to take into that second game, Rikard Norling’s side escaped further losses and may be a different kettle of fish out in Sweden, in a match where they are likely to be able to call upon star man Tarik Elyounoussi. Celtic will go into that one understandably with one eye on a tasty little upcoming fixture at Ibrox, but then AIK will also be travelling across the city on the same day to face deadly rivals Djurgardens at the top of the Allsvenskan. Judging by the ugly scenes which briefly flared between fans last night shortly before half time, it could be a hostile place to go and play.


After 22 goals in 64 appearances last season, James Forrest is already worth his weight in goals for Neil Lennon’s team. The 28-year-old, last year’s multiple player of the year winner, has quietly racked up a goal in each of his team’s last five matches and has rediscovered that happy knack of getting them at priceless times. Celtic were able to relax after his opener and could have put this tie out of sight with late chances from Callum McGregor, Olivier Ntcham and Lewis Morgan.


This was a back to basics kind of night, a night for square pegs in square holes. Aside from Kris Ajer's continued excellence as he deputised at right back, there was no more of that Callum McGregor at left back stuff.

Neil Lennon had spoken pre-match about the importance of delivering a clean sheet. And his much-maligned £10m defensive duo - who were left out of the horror show against the Transylvanians – helped deliver it. That doesn’t mean the Northern Irishman isn’t still be sourcing an alternative left back and a right back, but he had little choice but to throw both into action here, especially with Hatem Elhamed picking up a knock in training. And they got the job done.

Did we learn anything new about the pair last night? Not really, although it perhaps confirmed a few first impressions.

There is nothing wrong with Bolingoli’s capacity to make attacking bursts from that left back berth – shown to great effect as he found an excellent cutback for an early Mikey Johnston chance and had a hand in the opening goal. But there were mis-steps too, such as the yellow card which Robert Lundstrom managed to provoke from him, or the carelessness in possession which led indirectly to a headed second half chance for Nabil Bahoui.

As for Jullien, there was further confirmation here that he looks more than capable of winning a header in your box, even if he lacks the top class mobility that some might look for in a £7m defender. Both will be glad to get a match like this under their belts and move on.


Having concluded his season-long loan from Southampton during the game, Fraser Forster re-introduced himself to the supporters who used to idolise him at half-time. Coming off an excellent pre-season on the South Coast he is sharp and ready to go, even if he had little chance of first-team action due to the form of Angus Gunn. Gordon did nothing wrong lasst night, but with Scott Bain currently sidelined to injury, Forster will fancy himself to come straight back into the team. It will be instructive to see whether he has supplanted Gordon in goal by the time Ibrox ticks round.


Odsonne Edouard's free kick for Celtic's second goal of the night was the kind of strike the Scotland frontman would have been proud of. Standing over a dead ball some 25 yards out after Mikey Johnston had been brought crashing to earth, he hit the top corner with a beauty.