AMIDO Balde used the friendly against Liverpool to remind Celtic manager Neil Lennon that he has already signed a striker in this window.

The Portuguese 22-year-old has struggled to find any form since arriving from Vitoria Guimaraes in a £2 million transfer, certainly nothing to suggest he can fill the boots of Gary Hooper. Before yesterday's match at the Aviva Stadium, which Celtic won 1-0, the only time he had found the net was in a low-key outing at Brentford.

However, the manner in which he struck after just 12 minutes, shrugging aside rookie defender Andre Wisdom before shooting into the net off goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, suggested Balde is finally understands what is required of him. Lennon will hope the frontman will use this as a launchpad towards the starting XI. If so, the interruption to the competitive action will have been well worthwhile for Celtic.

It was billed, somewhat ambitiously, as the Dublin Decider. In reality, this meeting of Celtic and Liverpool was never going to decide anything, except, perhaps, which set of fans could best sing You'll Never Walk Alone.

While Brendan Rodgers' side could use the occasion to hone their sharpness in the final match before their league season kicks off next weekend, Lennon used it as a much-needed breather in the midst of a hectic schedule of Champions League qualifying ties and SPFL action.

Given permission to postpone the league game against St Mirren to take part in this money-spinning showpiece, the Celtic manager left most of his big names in Glasgow to indulge in rest and recovery after the midweek trip to Sweden.

Perhaps mindful that, 12 months ago Dylan McGeouch suffered a broken jaw in the corresponding friendly against Real Madrid in Philadelphia, of the XI who started against Elfsborg, only Mikael Lustig and Emilio Izaguirre were on show.

It meant a rare chance for Balde, Steven Mouyokolo and a clutch of other fringe men and youngsters to attempt to impress. Of course, there was no sign of Liverpool's enfant terrible Luis Suarez in the Reds' line-up, but with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho, Glen Johnson, and Stewart Downing plus summer signings, Kolo Toure, Iago Aspas and Mignolet on duty, it should have been an uneven contest.

However, bar a 10-minute period immediately after Balde had opened the scoring - when Lukasz Zaluska made agile saves from Coutinho and Downing, and Mouyokolo recovered well to block another effort from the latter - then a late push by Liverpool to gain parity, the makeshift Celtic side held their own. Liverpool did enjoy the bulk of the possession, and found gaps between and behind Celtic's back four. What they failed to do was find the net, and Zaluska can be happy with his part in this for the 45 minutes he was on the field.

When they did hit the target, nine minutes after the break, it was Fraser Forster who Toure beat with a close-range header from a Gerrard free kick. However, the defender had strayed into an offside position, spotted by the assistant ref, but not the stadium announcer who continued to tell the crowd they had just seen an equaliser.

At the other end, the combination of captain-for-the-day Anthony Stokes - booked for a high tackle on Coutinho - and Balde tried to give their defence some respite, but, as Liverpool found their stride, they saw less of the ball. Both were eventually replaced by more of the new kids on the block as the team's average age lowered significantly.

This did nothing to reduce their willingness to fight for the win, however, and the Dublin Decider was decided in Celtic's favour.