The first for Neil Lennon’s men in six games and a result that ends a five-game winless run in their own environs - and is only their third in 13 games - there was no doubting the shining light in an experimental team.
David Turnbull not only showed a sleekness and confidence that has drained from more senior colleagues. In only his second start, the 21-year-old fashioned the 78th minute winner of a see-saw contest with the exquisite technique that marks him out as such a hugely exciting talent. The winner, which witnessed the summer signing from Motherwell steer the ball into the far corner after taking a cutback from Kristoffer Ajer with the surest touch, was deserved for his commanding display.
It made for a courageous end to an encounter anything but meaningless to the beleaguered Lennon and his squad, despite them being condemned to bottom place in their Europa League Group H section ahead of the closing game.
In a Celtic team of many changes - seven in all from the soulless draw with St Johnstone at the weekend - it had seemed the most eye-catching was the choice of goalkeeper. And potentially the most significant. At the start of this season Conor Hazard would never have expected, even in a dead European rubber, to have earned a first start for a club that the 22-year-old Irishman joined six years ago.
The fact that Lennon hasn’t really even been able to get a dead-cat bounce from either of his confidence-drained senior keepers Vasilis Barkas and Scott Bain meant there was nothing to be lost by Lennon in giving Hazard a whirl. Typical, that any assessments of the 6ft 6in keeper would require to be reserved because of the purpose and valiance the players in front of him defended their goal with. Shane Duffy was one such performer. His reappearance as a central defensive partner for Christopher Jullien in a back four meant Ajer moving out to right-back. It gave the backline a better-looking balance, and a little heft.
There was a freshness and vibrancy to Celtic throughout, even if they were still at times jittery and had to withstand periods of pressure. The zing that they were able to bring to the game even with their limitations had everything to do with the contributions of Ismali Soro and Turnbull.
The Ivorian, in his first start a full 10-and-a-half months after arriving in Scotland, exhibited good awareness and smart range of passing. Turnbull, in only his second full appearance since his £3.5m move from Motherwell in the summer, provided an elegance and drive through the middle in a supporting attacker role for solo striker Patryk Klimala that Celtic so often have lacked in their ruinous recent run.
More than that, the Scotland under-21 was able to fashion inviting deadball deliveries that, again, have been largely absent across, what might be termed, ‘the protest period’. It was Turnbull’s 21st minute corner from the left, sent in with whip and spin, that allowed Celtic to claim an early lead. It was in an area that encouraged Jullien to charge in at the front post to make contact, the Frenchman’s forehead grazed enough to send the ball low in at the far corner of the Lille net.
Any idea that this would set Celtic firmly on their way lasted all of 120 seconds. As captain in the absence of Scott Brown, Callum McGregor would have considered his role was to give the lead to his team. Alas, his first significant intervention was how not to mop up in his own final third, the midfielder guilty of a horrendous error when crazily attempting to hook the ball over his shoulder to his keeper and only succeeded in letting Yusaf Yazıcı pick up possession, dart into the box and square for Nanitamo Ikone to score.
Celtic, as would be the hallmark of their evening’s effort, did not buckle and were ahead again on the hour mark when Jeremie Frimpong was wiped out by Domagoj Bradaric in the penalty area as he shaped to shoot. McGregor made quick amends for his earlier howler by slamming in the subsequent award and it allowed Celtic to take an unlikely 2-1 lead into the interval. The incident also forced Frimpong off with his replacement Ewan Henderson slotting in with poise on the right.
There was still the expectation that Lille, battling for the victory that would allow them to top Group H, would eventually come out on top. And a familiar pattern seemed to be taking shape when former Celtic loanee Timothy Weah, of course, drilled in from the edge of the area after fastening on to a clearing header from a free-kick after 70 minutes. Another goal would be along shortly was the feeling from those who have watched Celtic contort their way out of promising situations in a ghastly European group campaign. The fact that it came from Turnbull will allow Lennon to avoid twisting in the wind for first time in a month.
Celtic: Hazard; Laxalt; Duffy, Jullien, Ajer (Welsh 87); Frimpong (Henderson 30), McGregor, Soro, Turnbull (Rogic 87), Elyounoussi; Klimala (Ajeti 78).
Lille: Malgnan; Niasse, Fonte (Boteman 46), Tiago Djalo, Bradaric; Ikone (Lihadji 66), Soumare (Andre 66), Xeka, Weah (Mandava 78); David, Yusuf Yazici.