Ronny Deila’s side crashed out of the Europa League with a 2-1 defeat to Ajax on Thursday, leaving the Norwegian boss under increasing pressure but they returned to domestic duty to show their mettle.
Midfielder Callum McGregor was on target with a fine drive from distance after only seven minutes, but that was cancelled out by Caley striker Miles Storey in the 39th minute.
Inverness matched Celtic into the second half, but in the 59th minute Leigh Griffiths drove in a Kieran Tierney cross and, with five minutes remaining, sub Carlton Cole, making his debut, tangled with Danny Devine, with the ball ending up in the net for an untidy but satisfactory conclusion for the champions.
Deila had harsh words for out-of-favour Irish striker Anthony Stokes afterwards (see page 8), but he pointed to McGregor, 18-year-old Tierney, and Scott Allan, making another substitute appearance, but yet to start since signing from Hibernian, as an example of the attitudes he is looking for.
Deila said: “What I am so happy about is when you have a good attitude in training, you work hard, you are loyal, very humble and want to learn, like Callum McGregor and Scott Allan. You see they get pay-back and that is so nice to see as a coach, the same with Kieran Tierney.
“Scott was a big player at Hibs, he knew it was a big step to come to Celtic, he knew he had to be patient and work hard and he has never said, ‘I need to play’ to me. He keeps on working and he gets his chance in the end.
“Those three are unbelievable examples of players who have been out and worked their way back into things.”
Deila was relieved to see his side bounce back from their European disappointment and also to see Cole make his bow.
He said: “I am very pleased with the boys after what happened on Thursday. Carlton needs time. He hasn’t played since May. There is a lot more to come from him.”
Inverness boss John Hughes saw glimpses of improvement in his side.
He said: “I felt for 60 minutes we were every bit as good as them. The second goal was a cheap goal to give away, the third goal might have been a handball from Cole, but that is neither here nor there.
“We are nearly there, but yet so far away, but I think everyone can see we are are a good football side.”