Amido Balde’s first-half goal proved the difference as a young Celtic side shocked a strong Liverpool outfit 1-0 in their friendly at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
The result brings Liverpool’s unbeaten pre-season to an end as they prepare to host Stoke City in next week’s Premier League opener. It was the first time a match at the Aviva Stadium has sold out as Celtic and Liverpool showed why they have such huge followings in the Irish capital.
Liverpool were strong favourites to emerge victors, but Neil Lennon's shadow side had other ideas with a mature performance of some substance against the Premier League team.
Celtic's Portuguese U21 forward Balde gave young centre-back Andre Wisdom, deputising for vice-captain Daniel Agger who was left on Merseyside, a tough time for over an hour before he was substituted. He was named man of the match for a shadow Celtic side that consisted mainly of youth players and reserves.
He gave Celtic the lead on 12 minutes, cutting inside from the right and firing a low effort at Simon Mignolet. The keeper could not smother the ball and it looped over him and bounced into the net.
The Reds immediately responded through Glen Johnson, who shot tamely at goalkeeper Lukasz Zaluska from a good position.
Philippe Coutinho produced some flashes of brilliance as Liverpool dominated possession, but the Scottish side remained solid at the back and had chances to add to their haul with Liverpool scrambling the ball clear inside their box and Anthony Stokes seeing a header held by Mignolet seconds before the break.
Stewart Downing also went close for the Reds: cutting in from the right, the winger’s effort was acrobatically tipped away by Zaluska, who was truly inspirational before being replaced at half-time.
In the second half, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s free-kick found the head of Kolo Toure who thought he had scored his first goal for the club - but the linesman ruled it out for offside.
Daniel Sturridge made his return for Iago Aspas after an injury-dogged pre-season to date and went close three minutes before the end when his rasping effort skimmed the roof of Celtic’s net from 20 yards.
With last season's leading scorer Luis Suarez suspended for six matches even if he remains at the club - Arsenal are still keen despite owner John W. Henry's insistence that they will not sell to a rival - and summer signing Aspas still looking lightweight up front, there is a real need for someone of Sturridge's ability to provide the spearhead.
Before the match Brendan Rodgers's side had six friendly victories under their belt, conceding just once against Valerenga last Wednesday. But a Celtic team that played the final 20 minutes with several youth players showed why they proved such a tough side to beat in the Champions League last season to deny their much-vaunted English opponents a draw.
Celtic return to competitive action at Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership next week having already come through two Champions League qualifying rounds this term. They opened their domestic title defence with a win over Ross County last weekend.