THE mere mention of Rapid Vienna can still provoke an extreme reaction among those Celtic supporters old enough to recall their 1984 European Cup Winners’ Cup tie against the Austrians.

Any lingering resentment which there may still be from that infamous encounter 33 years ago was nowhere in evidence in this pre-season friendly at the Ertl Glas Stadion in sleepy Amstetten last night.

Moussa Dembele making his long-awaited return to action and scoring the equalising goal for Brendan Rodgers’s side ensured everyone involved with the Scottish champions departed happy at the end of a testing and ultimately satisfying workout.

That, as Celtic supporters of a certain age will testify, hasn't always been the case when these two rivals have met.

“I thought in the first half the team wasn’t great,” said Rodgers. “They looked like they hadn’t played together before. The shape and their tactical discipline wasn’t very good. We spoke about it at half-time and they went out and, in fairness to them, started well.

“We played with a bit more discipline to our shape. We gained control of the game and then the chances came. When we made the changes in the second half and went to 3-4-3 I thought the players were outstanding.

“In the final half an hour the speed of the game, the tempo, the positioning, the discipline, the transition, everything really, was better. We looked a much greater threat.

"I was very, very pleased. It was another game that tested us mentally. We had to come back into it. So, overall, the 90 minutes were a good workout for us against a good team.

“We had a good second half in a game that was a good test for us against a good side. Rapid were in the Austrian Cup final last year against Red Bull Salzburg so it was always going to be a good test for the boys. They are a good side with good players.”

Rodgers started virtually his first choice side here. Erik Sviatchenko was preferred to Jozo Simunovic at centre half and Leigh Griffiths was given the nod ahead of Dembele up front. Those two aside, however, it was his strongest line-up.

Craig Gordon returned in goals and Mikael Lustig, Dedryck Boyata and Kieran Tierney completed the defence. Stuart Armstrong and Scott Brown were positioned just in front of them in central midfield with James Forrest, Callum McGregor and Scott Sinclair forming the three quarter line.

The meeting in Rohrbach with Blau-Weiss Linz, local second tier opposition, on Wednesday evening had been a relaxed run-out. Rodgers had even, to the bemusement of some, given his son Anton 45 minutes as a trialist.

Rodgers Jnr is a professional footballer who is looking for a new club after being released by Swindon Town at the end of last season. He has trained with his father’s club here in an attempt to get his fitness up and win a move to another club.

The 24-year-old midfielder, though, wasn’t involved in the match day squad yesterday. He had done well in the midweek match which the Scottish champions had won 1-0 thanks to a late James Forrest. But this game against renowned Austrian Bundesliga rivals was a step up.

That much was obvious right from the start of the game. Gordon was called on to make two saves in the opening 10 minutes of the match. He did well to deny a Joelinton header and a powerful drive from Tamas Szanto.

Szanto had a goal ruled out for offside soon afterwards. Goran Djuricin’s side very much had control of proceedings. Stuart Armstrong tried his luck from long range but his ambitious attempt finished well wide of its intended target.

It may have been a meaningless match with nothing other than pride at stake for both teams. But Joelinton and Brown still managed to get involved in a wrestling match on the Celtic goal line as Rapid prepared to take a corner. Both men were booked by match official Markus Habeter as a result.

A miscued clearance by Gordon gifted Stefan Schwab a chance in the 24th minute. His chip cleared the goalkeeper but struck the left post. The tourists were living precariously at that stage.

Celtic had an opportunity to take the lead against the run of play just four minutes before half-time when Griffiths was brought down by Max Wober just outside the Vienna penalty box.

He stepped up to take the free-kick himself. The last time the centre forward had been in such a position was, of course, in the Scotland game against England at Hampden last month when he had netted from fully 30 yards out.

But there was to be no repeat of that spectacular strike. His attempt on this occasion struck the defensive wall and was cleared to safety.

The Austrians took a deserved lead just before half-time. A slack Boyata passback was pounced on by Joelinton and the forward advanced past Gordon before being blatantly brought down. The Brazilian stepped up and converted the spot kick.

Celtic changed their entire side in the 63rd minute. Conor Hazard, Tony Ralston, Jozo Simunovic, Emilio Izaguirre, Calvin Miller, Jonny Hayes, Nir Bitton, Liam Henderson, Tom Rogic, Gary Mackay-Steven and Dembele came on.

It was the first time that Dembele had been sighted since limping off with a hamstring strain in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final win over Rangers back in April. But he pretty much started where he left off.

The French striker stepped forward to take a penalty in the 73rd minute after Hayes had been fouled by Manuel Thurnwald and drilled his shot confidently beyond Richard Strebinger. It was as if he had never been away.