LUKASZ Zaluska yesterday stepped out of the wings on to the centre stage at Parkhead and received the kind of encore fit for a leading man.

Celtic's perennial back-up goalkeeper, victim of an alleged assault in the West End of Glasgow last month, issued a timely reminder of his worth on the field in stoppage time.

With Inverness Caledonian Thistle, trailing to a John Guidetti goal at the start of the second period, staging a late rally and this stadium in the East End of Glasgow holding its breath, the Polish keeper defied a header from Carl Tremarco, a save completed in two slow-motion instalments.

It allowed Celtic to head to Romania to take on FC Astra Giurgiu with five consecutive wins under their belt, his manager Ronny Deila striding on to the park at the final whistle to shower Zaluska with special congratulations.

"Inverness are hard to play against, they're the best team we've faced so far in the league this season," said Deila afterwards. "I'm happy for Lukasz. He's been working hard in the past month to get fitter and you can see the improvement. He got us the three points in the end. I think he's mentally strong and I haven't seen anything that's been a problem. He looks sharp in training, so it's good when you get paid back for your effort."

While Deila's decision to leave Craig Gordon out of his squad was precautionary, it was at least worrying that the former Scotland keeper has been complaining of a knee issue. Prior to yesterday, most seasoned Zaluska observers pointed to the fact he often tends to be on the scene of Celtic's most traumatic recent moments - St Mirren under Tony Mowbray, Utrecht and Ross County under Neil Lennon - not to mention the 1-0 reverse against these same opponents in Inverness earlier in the season. Although he didn't entirely convince while dealing with an early Graeme Shinnie effort, it wasn't until the dying moments that Inverness were able to threaten him.

Instead, from the start, John Hughes set his team out in a 4-5-1 shape, intent on sitting deep and stifling the life out of the game. No man in this Celtic team has made more of an impact than John Guidetti, and the scorer of a hat-trick in midweek almost continued where he left off when firing narrowly over after some neat work from Scott Brown and Stefan Johansen.

Half chances were all we had in the first half. Anthony Stokes was surprised by a Mikael Lustig cross at the far post, a Virgil van Dijk shot was beaten out by Dean Brill, while Brown and Stokes drilled identical low efforts wide. At the other end, Van Dijk had to head a Gary Warren cross clear from under his crossbar while Shinnie went close following a sweeping move with the final kick of the period.

Guidetti has electrified Celtic, though, and within four minutes of the restart he was at it again. Brown brushed Danny Williams aside - Marley Watkins was booked in the immediate aftermath for protesting that a foul should have been awarded - but the ball was funnelled forward via Anthony Stokes into the path of Guidetti, who wrongfooted David Raven and Brill with a clever reverse finish. For those keeping count, it was his ninth goal in his last seven games.

There was more controversy to come. Guidetti appeared to be caught in the box by Ross Draper, but instead of a penalty award, referee Craig Thomson gave the free kick in favour of Inverness, presumably suggesting the Swede had initiated the contact. Cue a ferocious row between the two sets of players, with Draper's name ending in the book just to confuse matters still further.

Hughes went for Plan B, introducing Ryan Christie, Aaron Doran and Billy McKay in an attempt to find a spark, and they almost got their equaliser. One Tremarco header flew over before McKay's half-hit low finish was claimed by Zaluska. Tremarco really should have scored from Raven's far post cross, but a combination of his poor effort and the Pole's heroics kept it out.

"I thought we were hard done by at the goal because I thought it was a foul on Danny Williams," said Hughes afterwards.

"But that's irrelevant as Celtic went right down the middle and scored. But we had Celtic on the back foot and we could have taken something from the game."