Celtic F.C kicked off their Europa League campaign with a hard-fought draw away to their French counterparts Rennes in a heated encounter.
The Hoops, who were down to 10 men in the final minutes of the game, fell behind to a spot-kick from former Watford striker M’Baye Niang in the 37th minute. The penalty kick was called for following a rash lunge from Kristoffer Ajer bringing the striker down in the box.
But James Forrest drew a foul in the 59th-minute which Ryan Christie converted to cancel out Rennes’ lead in the first half of the encounter.
The Scottish giants were reduced to 10 men after an early-shower on substitute Vakoun Issouf Bayo following two yellow cards in quick succession in the closing minutes of the game.
There were a number of changes to the Rennes team since their French Cup win last term. They have regrouped and have shown themselves a Ligue 1 giant in recent times.
Indeed, they occupy the second position on the Ligue 1 standings, only behind defending champions Paris Saint Germain who they defeated at home last month.
The Ligue 1 side also defeated North London club Arsenal at Roazhon Park in this same competition last term. That said, they were later eliminated by the Premier League club over two legs in the round of 16.
There were a host of interesting plays from both sides but none of them proved decisive.
Celtic winger Raphinha forced a fine save from Fraser Forster from a curling effort only a few minutes away from the hour mark before Rennes were handed a penalty.
The Hoops came back after the interval with the aim of taking the game by the scruff of its neck and got a good grab of the match by winning a penalty which they converted cool, calm and collected.
The result has given the Scottish champions a platform to build on with their eyes already set on their home game against CFR Cluj. CFR Cluj aren’t quite as weak as many had thought them to be, handing Lazio a shock 2-1 defeat.
Celtic will have to be wary of the threat that these underdogs pose in the final third.
Written by: Roland Arum