After 22 months – or 664 days – without one, a Champions League group stage match kicked off on Scottish soil once again. Even goalless draws don't seem quite so bad in Europe's premier club competition.
Uefa's trademark theme music, Zadok The Priest, may have been sneakily aired a few times prior to the odd qualifying match or two but this was the first full-throated chorus heard anywhere in this country since Rangers conceded a late Wayne Rooney penalty to go down by a single-goal at Ibrox in November 2010.
For Celtic alone, you could go back a further two years, to a 2-0 victory against Villarreal. It said it all for the anticipation around this ground that Handel's piece of classical music was fairly drowned out by more than 53,000 fans, delighted that Scotland for one night at least, no longer felt like a footballing backwater.
The other musical reference points pre-game were Gerry & The Pacemakers and Thin Lizzy. A rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone was dedicated as an act of post-Hillsborough remembrance before fans mounted a display featuring the European Cup and the words The Bhoys Are Back In Town. Lisbon, of course, was the scene of Celtic's most famous triumph but times have changed and Neil Lennon's ambitions against last night's visitors from Portugal were decidedly more modest.
Twice in recent history Celtic had taken Benfica's scalp in Glasgow only to suffer the opposite result in Portugal, but their visitors had reached the last eight of this competition only last season and their form coming into this match was in marked contrast to Celtic's.
Jorge Jesus' side top the Portuguese league after the first three rounds, even though they have not played a competitive match for a fortnight, and Lennon seemed content to check the thrusts of his more vaunted opponents. There was a realism about Lennon's first Champions League group stage team selection, with Mickael Lustig and Kelvin Wilson, the two fastest central defenders on the Parkhead payroll, enlisted into duty.
Having said that, the cacophony around Celtic Park in the opening stages of these nights can be harnessed for the home side's advantage and on a chilly night in the East End of Glasgow you briefly suspected Benfica also might get caught cold. And some things don't change, Scott Brown devoting his evening to expertly bullying the likes of Pablo Aimar and Nicolas Gaitan out of their stride.
With Gary Hooper only fit enough to take a place on the bench, Miku – given his Sunday name Nicolas Fedor on Uefa's official team lines – was the only true striker in Neil Lennon's starting XI and from his cute touch Kris Commons had an early chance which he tugged wide. Dangerous crosses whizzed into the box from both Charlie Mulgrew and Commons but after a hesitant opening, the Portuguese gradually got their bearings. There were also first-night nerves from the Parkhead support, not least when Fraser Forster was given the benefit of the doubt when he converged on the ball and dangerman Rodrigo at the same time. Victor Wanyama and Emilio Izaguirre both ran the gauntlet after first-half bookings.
A second wave of Celtic optimism greeted the beginning of the second period, even if there remained little in the way of chances for the fans to get properly excited about. Commons's cross was sclaffed haplessly towards his own goal by Gaitan; an opening cancelled out by another good save from Forster to defy Ezequiel Garay's header.
Hooper duly arrived, as Celtic moved to a more recognisable 4-4-2, but only a limited amount of caution was thrown to the wind from either camp. Bruno Cesar and Commons swopped long-rangers, the Scotland man's effort from all of 50 yards. A howl of anguish greeted the non-award of a penalty for contact on James Forrest, then substitute Oscar Cardozo's header flew over. Fans leapt off their seats as Miku had one last run down the left but late drama was kept at a minimum. It hadn't been a classic. But this was the Champions League all right.
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