THERE must be something in the air in Brittany, or perhaps it is the wonderful clash of noise, colour and chaos inside the Roazhon Park that momentarily makes Celtic defenders take leave of their senses. From Cha Du-Ri in 2011 to Kristoffer Ajer eight years later, Celtic have now given their hosts a goal of a start in both their visits, but just as in their first trip here though under Neil Lennon, his side showed they have the mettle to hit back.

Lennon had talked up the impact his French fancies could have on this match, but in the end, it was his Norwegian momentarily having wood between the ears that almost cost them a result, which would have been a profound injustice on the merits of their overall performance.

A frankly crazy challenge from Kristoffer Ajer on M’Baye Niang allowed the Rennes forward to score from the penalty spot in the first half, before Ryan Christie cancelled that strike out with his own converted penalty after the break.

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It was no more than the Scottish champions deserved for a showing that was full of adventure, swagger and no little skill. Whisper it, but Celtic’s traditionally woeful away form may just be a thing of the past, with this result increasing their recent run to just one defeat – in Valencia – on the last seven occasions they have looked out their passports. They had to navigate the final minutes with 10 men after substitute Vakoun Issouf Bayo picked up a red card for two bookings, but that was about as hair-raising as it got for the Scots.

Lennon had said on Saturday that the challenge presented by Stade Rennais on their own patch would differ greatly to the one his team faced at Hamilton, but he retained faith in the same personnel that won in Lanarkshire to get that job done.

Certainly the atmosphere was far livelier than at Accies, with the home fans in their self-styled ‘Celtic Kop’ in place long before kick-off and making an almighty din.

While the omission of Olivier Ntcham may have raised one or two eyebrows, there was a surprise or two in the home line-up too, with Julien Stephan opting to ditch his usual back three and shift centre-half Jeremy Morel to left-back to combat the threat of James Forrest. And up front, star striker Niang made the line-up despite his struggles with injury.

As it turned out, despite Lennon’s theory that his side may have to accept that the home team would dominate possession, it panned out to be quite the opposite scenario, with Celtic making most of the running and Rennes content to hit on the counter for the most part.

The game started scrappily, but Celtic carved out the first half-chance as a cross from James Forrest found Edouard around the back post, but the striker’s attempt at an acrobatic volley was off the mark.

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Celtic thought they had the opener as a wonderful passing move saw Christie release Boli Bolingoli down the left, and the full-back played a peach of a low ball across the six-yard box that Edouard left for the sliding Mohamed Elyounoussi, but the winger agonisingly failed to make contact.

Edoaurd was then booked for simulation after dancing past a couple of challenges in the area, before Scott Brown joined him for a robust challenge on Grenier.

Fraser Forster was called into action for the first time on the half hour as Raphinha tied Bolingoli in knots before cutting inside and unleashing a left-foot effort that the keeper had to stretch to fist away.

But just as the home crowd were getting frustrated, Ajer handed Rennes a golden opportunity to take the lead as he dived in on Niang and then hauled him down by his jersey. It was a stonewaller, and a shocker from the usually reliable youngster.

The Celtic manager must have been beyond frustrated at his centre-half for blowing the good work his side had carried out to that point, with his pleas for total concentration prior to the game falling on deaf ears. It may not have been as eye-catching a blunder as Cha Du-Ri’s own goal eight years back, but the outcome was the same as Niang converted to Forster’s right and Celtic fell behind.

The visitors had their own call for a penalty at the start of the second half as Christie won a race to the ball with Joris Gnagnon and was taken out, but Spanish referee Jose Maria Sanchez was unmoved this time when it looked a spot-kick all day long. There have been a few controversies involving Rennes with VAR decisions of late, but they were grateful it wasn’t in use here.

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Just before the hour though, not even this official could miss the trip by home captain Damien Da Silva on Forrest as the winger jinked past him, and Christie was handed the chance to level things up. He duly did, coolly dispatching the penalty to Edouard Mendy’s left and sending the wedge of Celtic fans at the opposite end wild.

The biggest concern thereafter was the ordering off of Bayo. The forward had picked up a booking for an aerial challenge before following in on Mendy after the keeper had spilled a shot from Ntcham. He had to go for it, and may feel a little hard done by, but Celtic saw the game out comfortably enough.

There was no one more relieved than Ajer, but he may feel he was due a favour from his mates.