Celtic .............. 2 Newcastle United .............. 0

Celtic supporters went home last night with hope and optimism to take with them as they survey the serious stuff coming up at the weekend.

After the disappointment of the friendly with Leeds United on Saturday, when they lost 2-1, their revamped John Barnes creation looked a bit more like a team going somewhere as they overcame the Ruud Gullit side with a bit to spare.

Nobody ought to get carried away yet, though, as there looked to be plenty of room for improvement, particularly at the striking end of the pitch.

However, against that, the two goals scored by Olivier Tebily, who had scored one at the wrong end on Saturday, and Mark Viduka in the second half will do no harm to the side's confidence in that department.

It will be a huge boost, too, to know that Henrik Larsson is at his very best again, and that is exceptional, as the majority of the 59,252 in the stadium are well aware. The only concern was that he hurt his foot and had to leave just before the end, but it did not look too serious.

It was a big occasion, too, for Eyal Berkovic, especially after the interval, when he displayed some of the classy skills that made him Celtic and Scotland's most expensive player to date.

With Tebily strong and decisive, Bobby Petta again impressing, and Paul Lambert in superb form, there was plenty for Barnes to be pleased about.

He said as much later and also reported that Larsson had twisted his ankle but would be fine. ''I was much happier tonight than on Saturday. I thought everyone was excellent. We played in more crosses - Vidar Riseth had more himself than anyone else and he was in the full-back position.

''If we can pass the ball as well and quickly as we did tonight, I'll be happy. I had told them that they had to move the ball quicker than they did on Saturday and I thought they did very well. In fact, I thought the first-half performance overall was better than the second half. If we had not won tonight we would have gone into the Aberdeen game without confidence.''

Barnes also dismissed suggestions that he was interested in Liverpool's Dominic di Matteo. ''He is not a player I am interested in but I admire him, just as I admire every Liverpool player.''

In contrast, Newcastle manager Ruud Gullit felt that his team had been much the better side in the first half. ''We gave away a goal from a corner and that gave them confidence but I felt that later on we played well again, and could have created a lot of opportunities. I was pleased with what I saw.''

The Parkhead crowd, basking in the warmth of a glorious evening, were already in a good mood before they cheered the return of Larsson to the fray - and they were soon proved justified. Right from the off, the Swede was clearly in refreshed and impish mood. Some of his flicks and tricks were a pleasure to watch.

He was involved in nearly every smart move conjured up by Celtic - and there were many - including one in the first minute, when he and Viduka combined well to feed Berkovic on the right. However, the Israeli was surprisingly called offside.

However, Celtic were soon reminded of Barnes' warning about the directness of the visiting side. In a swift, incisive movement they swept downfield and when Laurent Charvet's cross came over, Shearer, who had stolen away from Tebily, headed what looked a scorer as it beat Stewart Kerr. Tommy Boyd saved the day for Celtic with a clearance off the line.

Johan Mjallby caused some heart-fluttering in the stands when he flattened Temuri Ketsbaia, giving away a free kick 20 yards out. Nolberto Solano found a gap in the wall, too, but Kerr was there to save his effort.

Larsson then produced the best touch of the night to date when he back-heeled a ball at pace which deceived the United defence and sent Viduka on the run towards goal. Unfortunately, the Australian tried to return the favour but his back-heeled effort was easily mopped up by the English side.

However, Celtic produced a clever piece of intricate control by Berkovic inside the box and an equally smart pass inside Alain Goma which Viduka reached, despite being hampered by the centre back, and it needed the flailing arm of the diving Marc Ziegler to sweep the ball away as the three of them landed in a pile.

Berkovic was downed from behind by a late tackle from Gary Speed. There was more ire to come when Alan Shearer hit Stephane Mahe with a late tackle, too.

The referee had no option but to show the yellow card a few minutes later when Speed was again too late with a boot that caught Paul Lambert.

Celtic replaced Moravcik at the start of the second half with the Dutch newcomer, Bobby Petta, but it was another new face who opened the scoring in 48 minutes. Tebily rose above the defence to head in a well-flighted corner from Berkovic. The delight of the Frenchman was there for all to see.

However, Newcastle could still change from defence into attack with admirable speed and when defender Didier Domi went on a run down the left, he finished it with a clever lob that went over Kerr but also over the bar.

Celtic then went two in front. Petta moved the ball cleverly to Berkovic and then it was through to Viduka, who received a couple of good rebounds, one off the keeper, before knocking the ball over the line.

Shearer was taken off and replaced by Paul Robinson. In 73 minutes Celtic took off Berkovic, who received a huge ovation from the crowd, and brought on Regi Blinker, who came closest to a third goal with a well-struck left-foot shot that seemed on its way until it was deflected by a defender for a corner.

CELTIC - Kerr, Boyd, Mahe, Mjallby, Tebily, Riseth, Larsson, Moravcik, Viduka, Berkovic, Lambert. Substitutes - Wieghorst, Johnson, Gould, Petta, Blinker, McKinlay, Burchill, Bonnes, Brattbakk.

NEWCASTLE UNITED - Ziegler, Charvet, Marcelino, Goma, Domi, Solano, Dumas, Speed, Shearer, Ketsbaia, Serrant. Substitutes - McLen, Perez, Maric, Robinson, Hughes, Barton, Kerr, Coppinger, Beharall.

Referee - R Orr (Kilbarchan).