Inverness hand weakened Celtic shock defeat
Inverness: Inverness Caledonian Thistle handed Celtic a shock 1-0 defeat in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday as the Hoops paid the price for fielding a weakened side at the Caledonian Stadium.
With Tuesday`s crucial Champions League play-off second leg against NK Maribor in mind Celtic made no fewer than 10 changes while Inverness stuck with the side that defeated Motherwell last week.
However, the gamble failed to pay off as Eoghan O`Connell`s own goal in the 65th minute handed Inverness their first win against Celtic at home since May 2011.
The Hoops had scored in their previous 58 league matches but they lacked the invention and urgency to find a way past a disciplined Inverness defence.
The win sends Inverness four points clear of Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership, albeit they have played a game more than the Glasgow giants, as they equalled their club record of five consecutive clean sheets.
For new Hoops manager Ronny Deila it was his first domestic defeat to end his 100 per cent winning start in the league.
"I think in the first half we had three big chances and didn`t score. In the second half we didn`t get the chances we wanted," the Norwegian said.
"They scored and in the last 20 minutes we were very passive and a little bit too afraid to lose so I was disappointed with that."
Inverness manager John Hughes felt his side had rode their luck at times.
"I thought we rode our luck in the first half and they had one or two chances which hit the woodwork but you need luck when you are playing against Celtic," Hughes said.
"In the second half once we got the goal they upped the tempo but we just changed our shape and made it difficult for them to break us down."
Celtic manager Deila handed rare starts to teenagers O`Connell and Liam Henderson but it was the home side who started the brightest and Greg Tansey sent a 20-yard free-kick narrowly wide before his fierce effort from even further out went close.
Celtic were next to threaten with Inverness keeper Dean Brill having to be alert to tip a hooked shot from Efe Ambrose over the bar before making a superb double save to deny Teemu Pukki twice from close range.
Nir Biton sold his marker a dummy before he sent a curling shot off the crossbar in the 35th minute as Celtic again came close to breaking the deadlock.
Charlie Mulgrew then popped up to clear Gary Warren`s looping headed effort off the line after the Inverness man connected with Graeme Shinnie`s corner.
Celtic brought on Stefan Johansen and Callum McGregor at the break as they looked to grab a winner but it was Inverness who made the breakthrough in the 65th minute.
Marley Watkins turned Johansen on the right wing before delivering a dangerous ball into the box. Lukasz Zaluska got to the ball ahead of striker Billy McKay but the keeper`s clearance hit off the shins of his own defender O`Connell and into the net.
Anthony Stokes was immediately brought on for Leigh Griffiths and almost had an instant impact as he played a clever ball through to Kris Commons but his team-mate`s effort was held by Brill.
Caley Thistle should have doubled their advantage in the 76th minute when Dylan McGeouch was robbed of possession in his box only for Christie to send his snap shot inches wide of the post with the goal gaping.
Zaluska then made a superb save to thwart Nick Ross two minutes from the end as Inverness finished strongly.