Sturm Graz 0 - 1 Celtic: New boss Rodgers handed first victory

Celtic continued their preparations for the new season with new manager Brendan Rodgers' first victory, as Ryan Christie scored the only goal to defeat their Austrian hosts in the Merkur Arena.

Celtic's Ryan Christie. Picture: John Devlin

Rodgers used the opportunity to gain a further insight into the strength of his squad as he used 22 players during the course of the match.

The visitors enjoyed the bulk of possession during the early stages and played numerous dangerous balls into the Sturm Graz penalty area, but without creating clear-cut chances.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Christie, pictured, did manage to test Christian Gratzei in the third minute after Saidi Jank and Scott Allan had forged a route down the right flank, but the goalkeeper was equal to the former Inverness striker’s curling effort.

Celtic goalkeeper Logan Bailly had to be alert too, reacting sharply to deny scoring opportunities to first Marc Andre Schmerbock and then Martin Ehrenreich.

The Scottish champions, however, looked much the more dangerous and Nadir Ciftci had a chip cleared off the goalline before the same player was thwarted again when he ran on to a Christie pass, but was unable to find the target after taking the ball round Gratzei.

Celtic were rewarded for their superiority in the 35th minute when Scott Allan got the better of the Sturm Graz defence inside the penalty area before setting up Christie to score from close range at the far post. Moments later, the home rearguard was exposed again and Liam Henderson had an opportunity to extend the lead, but he directed his shot too close to Gratzei.

Before the break, Celtic were on the back foot as Sturm Graz created a trio of scoring chances, but Rodgers side survived as Fabian Koch, Bright Edonwonyi and Schmerbock all failed to convert.

The Celtic manager made ten changes at half-time, only Nir Bitton remaining in place.

The Austrians having also made mass changes, the match descended into a rather tepid affair, though Stuart Armstrong livened up the action with a long-range effort which appeared to be heading into the top corner before Gratzei pulled off a brilliant save.

During the scrappy final stages, Patrick Roberts also tired his luck from distance, only to see his shot flash narrowly wide of goal.

Substitute goalkeeper Craig Gordon was hardly tested during the second period, but was called upon few just a few minutes remaining as pulled off an excellent reflex save to push away a rasping drive by Andreas Gruber.