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Watch full highlights as ‘Celtic B’ shine in 3-2 win over Athletic Club of Bilbao

Brendan Rodgers genuinely witnessed a match of two halves last night as he returned to Celtic Park for the James Forrest Testimonial against Athletic Club of Bilbao.

At half-time the returning boss would have been mildly concerned by the performance of his first choice XI, by full time he had a number of options to consider for Saturday’s SPFL opener at home to Ross County.

Reo Hatate set the tone for a sluggish first half with a blind pass into the middle of the park that Ibai Gomez collected, stepped forward then send a 25 yard shot beyond Ben Siegrist to give the visitors a second minute lead.

As Celtic’s midfield struggled to get a foothold in the match there was the consolation that Cameron Carter-Vickers looked like he had never been away as he made his first appearance since the Scottish Cup semi-final win at Hampden at the end of April.

The former Spurs man was strong in every challenge and composed in possession which allowed Maik Nawrocki to play his way into the match, on the left of Carter-Vickers.

In the 37th minute a low drive from Reo Hatate drew Celtic level but straight away Athletic restored their lead with Iker Muniain embarrassing Tomoki Iwata before firing an unstoppable shot past Siegrist.

Athletic only made two half time changes, Celtic made 10 with Liel Abada then replacing Forrest in the 49th minute.

What followed next was a very pleasant surprise as a younger, experimental Celtic side took control of the game with the equalising goal a brilliant example of how to open up a defence.

Alexandro Bernabei played the ball forward to David Turnbull with the Argentinian continuing his run into the penalty box. Turnbull and Matt O’Riley combined to set Bernabei through on goal where he showed the composure of a top striker to slide the ball into the net.

Four minutes later Celtic were in front with a goal worked down the right with Oh Hyeon-gyu rolling the ball into Turnbull’s path where the former Motherwell man showed his eye for goal is as sharp as ever by finding the net from 10 yards out.

Turnbull and Benabei have both scored twice in pre-season and aren’t expected to be starters against Ross County- both are knocking on the door and likely to see some game time on Saturday.

Quietly working his way back was Tony Ralston, solid in defence and working well with Yang Hyun-jun down the right. With no timeline for Alistair Johnston’s return Ralston could be in for a busy time of it but over the last two seasons has shown that he can step in and make an instant impression.

Odin Thiago Holm looked very at home alongside O’Riley and Turnbull in the middle of the park while Liam Scales showed the benefits of having a naturally left sided central defender available.

Last night’s performance from the Irishman is likely to be bad news for Barry Robson with last season’s Pittodrie loanee likely to be retained at Celtic for the challenges ahead.

After last night’s second half performance Saturday’s team announcement has become a lot more interesting.

CELTIC: Siegrist, Tomoki, Carter-Vickers, Nawrocki, Taylor, Kwon, McGregor, Hatate, Maeda, Forrest, Kyogo

2ND HALF TEAM: Bain, Ralston, Starfelt, Scales, Bernabei, Holm, Turnbull, O’Riley, Yang, Forrest (Abada 49), Oh

Subs not used: Hart, Haksabanovic, Kelly, Welsh, McPherson

ATHLETIC CLUB: Simon, Vivian (Equliuz 79), Paredes Nolaskoain 65), Vesga (Herrera 65), Williams (Garcia de Albeniz 79), Muniain (Marton 79), Martinez (Malcom 79), Oscar de Marcos (Rincon 69), Villalibre (Garcia 46), Ruiz de Galarreta (Guruzeta 79), Gomez (Prados 46).

Subs: Morcillo, Agirrezabala

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