John Hartson and Neil Lennon were on target as Celtic strolled to a comfortable friendly win over Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Bobby Petta, who spent the second half of last season on loan with the Londoners, and Momo Sylla combined to set up Hartson for his ninth-minute strike, which brushed the fingertips of Ross Flitney on its way into the net. Celtic doubled their lead in the 69th minute when Lennon converted a spot-kick after Mark Crossley had brought down Stilian Petrov.
Fulham fielded different teams in both halves but looked well below the standards set by their Scottish opponents. Chris Coleman’s were a little more threatening in the first half, with young Dutch striker Collins John troubling the Celtic defence with his physicality and movement. But O’Neill’s side settled quicker and Petta relished the opportunity of reminding his manager what he could do against his old team-mates.
The wily winger breezed away from Zat Knight having outfoxed the tall defender with a stepover and found Sylla on the edge of the area. The midfielder smartly shifted it to the unmarked Hartson, who fired home his first goal since January. The visitors went close in the 19th minute when Sylla stung the palms of youth-team goalkeeper Flitney.
Fulham gradually got a foothold into the contest and David Marshall was called upon to field a shot from John after a raking forward ball by Knight, who then headed over when left unattended at a corner. Coleman sent out an entirely different eleven after the break, but Celtic made the brighter start. Craig Beattie hurdled a number of tackles but saw his shot saved by Crossley’s feet. The lively Petrov occupied Fulham’s defenders throughout and drew a fine save from Crossley when he connected sweetly with an overhead kick.
The home side’s most fluent move came midway through the second half when Ismael Ehui located Mark Pembridge, but the Welsh midfielder’s effort was pushed to safety by Marshall. From the resultant corner, Facundo Sava, who later limped off with what looked a serious knee problem, headed agonisingly over the crossbar.
Celtic continued to enjoy most of the possession and they got the second goal their dominance merited when Crossley’s rash challenge on man of the match Petrov resulted in a penalty. Lennon stepped up to coolly convert the spot kick to the delight of the rowdy Celtic support.
FULHAM (4-4-2): Flitney (Crossley 45); Rosenior (Volz 45), Bonnissel (Green 45), Knight (Leacock 45), Pearce (Goma 45); McKinlay (Pembridge 45), Rehman (Legwinski 45), Pratley (Doherty 45), Boa Morte (Timlin 45); John (Sava 45; Noble 76), Hammond (Ehui 45).
CELTIC (4-4-2): Marshall (Hedman 45); Agathe (Cuthbert 72), Varga, Laursen (O’Dea 72); McManus (McNamara 9), Sylla (Beattie 45), Lennon (McBride 72), Pearson (Petrov 45), Petta (McGeady 45), Hartson (Wallace 61), Fernandez (Sutton 45).
GOALS: Hartson (9), Lennon (pen 69).