Limerick - Antonio Candreva and Frank De Boer enjoyed ideal debuts as Inter Milan defeated Celtic 2-0 in the International Champions Cup in Limerick on Saturday.
Candreva, a €22-million ($24.6 million) signing from Lazio, scored a stunning second-half chip at the home of Munster Rugby's famous Thomond Park ground to give De Boer the perfect welcome as the new Nerazzurri boss.
It wasn't the score Brendan Rodgers, the Celtic boss, wanted ahead of Wednesday's Champions League play-off first leg with Israel's Hapoel Beer-Sheva, but the Hoops coach did leave almost his entire first team in Glasgow.
Just two of the players who started against Astana in the Champions League third qualifying round 10 days ago started in Limerick.
There was no room on the plane for Scott Sinclair, Kolo Toure, Craig Gordon, Scott Brown, Leigh Griffiths, Kieran Tierney, Patrick Roberts, Moussa Dembele, Tom Rogic, Callum McGregor or James Forrest.
Rodgers did, however, receive a timely boost to his defensive worries, with a welcome return to action for Dedryck Boyata, while Kristoffer Ajer continued to impress in midfield and defence.
Inter, playing their final warm-up game before their Serie A opener against Chievo next Sunday, fielded a strong team with Ever Banega, Ivan Perisic, Mauro Icardi and Andrea Ranocchia all starting.
Despite the mix-and-match nature of the Celtic side, the first half was a competitive one, with plenty for both Rodgers and De Boer to enjoy.
Leo Fasan, the 22-year-old Celtic goalkeeper, denied both Banega and Perisic moments apart in the early stages, and while the experienced Inter midfield enjoyed the better of the first half, Rodgers will have been impressed by how Liam Henderson and Ajer grew into the challenge.
EDER HEADS HOME
Ryan Christie, another Celtic youngster eager to make his mark, had a run and shot comfortably saved by Samir Handanovic on 20 minutes.
Celtic were vulnerable at set pieces, though, and it took a switched-on Stefan Johansen to clear Ranocchia's header from a corner on the half hour.
The Hoops should have taken the lead moments later, when Nadir Ciftci's flick sent Stuart Armstrong through one on one with Handanovic, but the Slovenian spread himself well to deny the Scot.
Icardi then found himself in space behind the Celtic back line, but his inexplicable delay gave Ajer time to recover and clear.
Fasan punched clear a thumping effort by Eder as the break approached, and the half looked set to end scoreless when Henderson failed to keep his shot down after great work from Saidy Janko to get past Yuto Nagatomo.
But Celtic were caught out at a set piece with seconds remaining, with Perisic flicking on Banega's corner at the front post and Eder nipping in ahead of Janko at the back post to nod home.
Efe Ambrose, a half-time substitute, headed narrowly over ten minutes after the restart, as Celtic rallied, before Ciftci almost completed the move of the match, only to see his volley come back off the crossbar.
As the game stretched, De Boer sent on Candreva and Felipe Melo, with the former showing his class with a stunning chip over Fasan to seal victory.