Gustaf Lagerbielke was the unlikely hero as Celtic finally ended their long wait for a Champions League win amid late drama in their dead rubber against Feyenoord at Parkhead.
Luis Palma’s 33rd-minute penalty put the home side on track after the impressive Liam Scales had been brought down, but the Dutch champions levelled through Yankuba Minteh in the 82nd minute.
However, substitute Lagerbielke headed home his first Celtic goal in stoppage time on his first appearance since September to earn a 2-1 victory. The Sweden centre-back nodded in from close range following Matt O’Riley’s exquisite cross as Celtic maintained pressure following a corner.
It was Celtic’s first Champions League group stage win in 16 matches since they beat Anderlecht six years ago during Brendan Rodgers’ first spell in charge and their first at home since defeating Ajax in October 2013.
The dramatic finale livened up a previously flat home support and ensured Group E bottom side Celtic doubled last year’s two-point tally.
Stephen Welsh was in the Celtic line-up for the first time since he suffered an ankle injury four months ago, while Kyogo Furuhashi started after two substitute appearances.
Mikey Johnston and Tomoki Iwata were handed their third starts in a row, but the Japanese midfielder only lasted 19 minutes before injury forced him off for Paulo Bernardo.
Feyenoord could not finish above third place and they made five changes. Their supporters were out in full force with several pockets of away fans evident in home sections.
With the vocal Green Brigade group still banned by Celtic and nothing at stake, the visitors from Rotterdam highlighted the lack of atmosphere among their hosts with chants including ‘Shall we sing a song for you?’
Both sides got in behind in the opening quarter. Furuhashi was denied by a good stop from Justin Biljow after being played through by Scales. Santiago Jimenez was then flagged offside after rounding Joe Hart and netting, before the goalkeeper produced a diving save after the Mexico striker burst on to a long ball.
Celtic got the breakthrough when Ramiz Zerrouki pulled down Scales as Feyenoord defended a corner. The visitors protested vehemently, but French referee Benoit Batien had not needed VAR to spot the offence and replays backed his decision. Palma kept his cool to convert after the furore.
Celtic survived several scares before the break. Hart made another excellent save just before Callum McGregor cleared off the line, and Lutsharel Geertruida hit a post from close range after Feyenoord cut the Hoops defence open.
Palma had an excellent opportunity to double his tally early in the second half after Alistair Johnston’s low cross found its way to the back post, but Biljow saved with his foot.
Hart made another two decent stops before Celtic got greater control on proceedings.
Rodgers brought on summer signing Lagerbielke for Welsh and 17-year-old left-back Mitchel Frame made his debut on the wing after Palma suffered a facial knock and went off in the 75th minute.
The visitors levelled when the ball broke for Minteh in the left channel and the substitute had time and space to fire home from 10 yards.
Two Hart saves and a Scales block prevented Celtic from falling behind before McGregor struck the crossbar from 30 yards.
It looked like another late hard luck story for Celtic until Lagerbielke’s winner sparked jubilation with several supporters running on to the pitch to celebrate. One sparked an angry response from Rodgers as the manager ran up the touchline to berate the fan as he was led away by stewards.
A Hart save and a Johnston block maintained Celtic’s lead before another goalmouth scramble preceded the final whistle.