Roy Carroll delivered a goalkeeping masterclass to limit Celtic to two goals as Linfield claimed a respectable result at Windsor Park.
In the end, two uncharacteristic lapses from corner-kicks gifted Celtic a 2-0 win in a five-minute double salvo that sealed the game.
Scott Sinclair tucked away the first as his header bobbled into the bottom corner, then the outstanding Tom Rogic slammed home the second on 22 minutes, striding onto a corner-kick to finish first time.
That was all Celtic could manage, thanks to the outstanding Carroll as he made save after save to deny Sinclair a hat-trick and others besides.
As the game ticked into injury time, he made a stunning double save from Moussa Dembele and Mikael Lustig to sum up his performance and the match.
At the other end, Linfield struggled to muster much, although Andy Waterworth was a constant thorn in Celtic’s side and Mark Haughey spooned a first-half chance over the bar.
The second half was marred by an incident just before the hour-mark when objects were thrown at Celtic’s Leigh Griffiths as he prepared to take a corner. After stopping to talk to the referee twice, Griffiths was booked.
Defensively, Linfield were largely sound and it gives the Blues a more than respectable result to bring to Glasgow on Wednesday.
Belfast Telegraph Digital