DEDRYCK Boyata eased into life as a Celtic player on a balmy night in Paisley which was lit up by the skills of Gary Mackay-Steven.
Scorers: Celtic - Mackay-Steven (3), Pantophlet (25og)The Belgian defender captured from Manchester City looked comfortable and composed on the ball, although he had little to do against Dutch second tier outfit Den Bosch.
And when he was asked to produce a bit of pace on one or two rare occasions the speed was undoubtedly there.
He partnered Virgil van Dijk in a 4-4-2 system within which Ronny Deila ended up using 21 outfield players over the course of the match.
However, whether this partnership will be a fixture remains to be seen given Van Dijk’s very public desire to move to the Barclays Premier League and it could be that fellow new signing Saidy Janko, who will complete his move from Manchester United today, will be utilised in a central position.
The other major plus for Deila was the return of Mikael Lustig at right-back having missed so much football in each of the past two seasons, while Australian midfielder Tom Rogic was back with the top team after a miserable time with injuries largely incurred during his loan spell with Melbourne Victory last year.
Lustig got 40 minutes while Rogic was energetic and productive in the hour he was on the field at St Mirren Park.
Perhaps not unsurprisingly Mackay-Steven was the brightest spark while Stuart Armstrong also showed good touches.
It was, however, not such a great night for Stefan Scepovic who was partnered up front with academy attacker Luke Donnelly. Deila will try to coax something out of the Serb in pre-season but it was another misfiring run-out. There was even a rare sighting of Derk Boerrigter who came on for the last half hour playing on the left side, but the Dutchman is surely earmarked for the exit door if Celtic can offload him.
Unsurprisingly the Scotland contingent of Craig Gordon, Scott Brown, Charlie Mulgrew and Leigh Griffiths along with fellow internationals Emilio Izaguirre, Stefan Johansen and Nir Bitton were all rested. Deila also left out Adam Matthews, Efe Ambrose, James Forrest and Anthony Stokes – with Kris Commons still nursing a broken toe.
Mackay-Steven looked sharp and impressive on the right side and he gave Celtic the lead with barely three minutes gone.
Armstrong spotted Mackay-Steven’s run and threaded a fine pass. Mackay-Steven danced past keeper Kees Heemskerk and clipped the ball into the net.
He was involved in the second goal, too, in 25 minutes when his pace and trickery had the Dutch side in knots. Mackay-Steven worked his way into a shooting position and hit the goalkeeper with his effort. The ball rebounded into defender Kadeem Pantophlet who could not prevent the ball bouncing back off him and into the net.
The skills of the former Dundee United winger were all too much for defender Jordy van der Minden who crudely took him out to earn a yellow card from Kevin Clancy – and the jeers of the crowd for every subsequent touch of the ball.
Armstrong was also withdrawn after 40 minutes with Deila and his coaching staff clearly working to a game-time plan in the build-up to the Champions League qualifier with Icelandic side Stjarnan.
Deila brought on eight youngsters after 60 minutes so it was effectively an under-20s team that finished the match for Celtic. The only man to play the full 90 minutes was back-up keeper Leonardo Fasan.
Deila will ease more of his squad into Saturday’s match against Dukla Prague and then the friendly with Real Sociedad on 10 July – both of these matches also at St Mirren Park.
Celtic: Fasan; Lustig, Boyata, van Dijk, Tierney; Mackay-Steven, Rogic, Henderson, Armstrong; Donnelly, Scepovic. Subs: Fisher, O’Connell, Findlay, Waters, Lindsay, Thomson, McManus, Boerrigter, Nesbitt, Duffy, McMullan. Not used: Hazard.
Den Bosch: Heemskerk; Disveld, Maatsen, van der Minden, Beekmans; Smeekes, Vossebelt, Pozder, Zeldenrust, Verlaan, Esajas. Subs: Bollen, Hofstede, Belt Eman, Pantophlet, Boddaert, Fernandes, Thomassen, van der Sande, Ayrton, Baassou.