Celtic Triumphs in Testimonial, Honoring James Forrest’s Comeback

    Celtic came from behind to beat Athletic Bilbao 3-2 in James Forrest’s testimonial match.

    Celtic were outplayed in the opening period and trailed 2-1 before manager Brendan Rodgers switched his entire team for the second half, and goals from Alexandro Bernabei and David Turnbull added to Reo Hatate’s first-half effort.

    About 42,000 fans were inside Celtic Park to honour Forrest, who has scored 101 goals in 467 competitive appearances and won 22 trophies for the club.

    However, only a few hundred supporters occupied the standing section, which is normally frequented by the Green Brigade ultras, for the benefit match, which saw a “significant proportion” of proceeds promised to two charities, Kilbryde Hospice and Celtic FC Foundation.

    Rodgers received a warm reception when he was re-introduced to the Celtic support ahead of his first appearance at Parkhead since returning to the club.

    Cameron Carter-Vickers made his first start since undergoing knee surgery while Maik Nawrocki and Kwon Hyeok-kyu were handed Parkhead debuts.

    The visitors took the lead inside 90 seconds after Hatate gave the ball away and was clinically punished by Unai Gomez from 25 yards.

    The hosts continued to present Bilbao with opportunities from loose passes and Hatate was fortunate not to gift another goal before levelling out of the blue in the 36th minute when he picked up a loose ball and curled in a brilliant left-footed finish from 20 yards.

    The visitors were back in front within seconds of the restart. Right-back Tomoki Iwata lost possession on the edge of the box after bringing down a high diagonal ball and was punished in style by Iker Muniain.

    Only Forrest came back out after the interval but just until the 49th minute, when the fans were handed the chance to give him another ovation as he was replaced by Liel Abada. Summer signings Yang Hyun-jun and Odin Thiago Holm were among the half-time substitutes.

    Bernabei equalised midway through the half after linking up well with second-half captain Turnbull and Matt O’Riley, and the former Motherwell midfielder soon swept home from Oh Hyeon-gyu’s cutback.

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