Swedish striker Henrik Larsson scored at the start and end of the match as Celtic FC defeated FK Teplice 3-0 in this UEFA Cup third round first-leg tie.
Celtic manager Martin O'Neill brought Paul Lambert into midfield in place of the suspended Neil Lennon and Didier Agathe replaced John Kennedy in defence. Teplice, meanwhile, lacked coherency having transferred five players out of their side since impressively overcoming Feyenoord and 1. FC Kaiserslautern in previous encounters.
Against a team clearly struggling to recover its identity, last year's UEFA Cup runners-up did enough to secure a comfortable triumph without ever excelling. Larsson, however, was as accurate in front of goal as ever. He opened the scoring in the third minute, tucking away after sprinting on to a measured pass from in-form midfield player Alan Thompson.
Chris Sutton then doubled the lead, pouncing on a headed back-pass which fell short to round Teplice goalkeeper Tomáš Postulka in the 12th minute. At this stage, it seemed inevitable that Celtic would cut loose and considerably increase the advantage but Thompson fired over from close range in the 17th minute and Stephen Pearson squandered two chances. Postulka saved his first effort and Tomáš Hunal cleared his follow-up off the line. The same player also drilled over from the edge of the box when sent clear by Sutton.
Celtic appeared content to preserve their lead after the break and Teplice grew in confidence. Karel Rada was left unmarked in the penalty area ten minutes from time when the home back line suffered a momentary lapse in concentration but the defender's shot was wayward and sailed harmlessly over the bar.
The miss was to prove costly as Celtic paved the way for what they hope will be a comfortable night in the away fixture in the Czech Republic in a week's time by sealing the victory with a third goal. Larsson sneaked in at the near post to head in a pinpoint Stilian Petrov corner.
O'Neill agreed that the third goal put the gloss on a welcome result. "I would probably have accepted a 2-0 win but it was nice to get another one. We played exceptionally well in the first-half but I thought our display was a little stodgy in the second. Still, we fully deserved the win and the final goal gives us an extra lift going into the second leg."
His counterpart, Frantizek Straka, was less content: "The fact we conceded a third was such a shame for us as it came so late in the match," he said. "Also, we could have scored with ten minutes left through Karel Rada and things like that make a big difference to the standing of the tie."