Celtic got there in the end but not on the ticket they wanted.

An invitation to Europa League football was delivered to Celtic Park courtesy of a win that came off the back of a night of graft in Brussels back in October but on this form if Celtic wish to leave a lasting footprint on the tournament they will need to shake off their shyness when in the company of Continental friends.

The bullish aggression of Brendan Rodgers’ side as they have swashbuckled their way through the domestic landscape has been notable; it has been glimpsed only in diffident and sporadic patches in this season’s UEFA Champions League campaign.

Read more: Celtic captain Scott Brown: I will never be fit to lace Kenny Dalglish’s boots

There is not much shame in being cowed against the likes of PSG and Bayern Munich.

And against Anderlecht over in Belgium they produced arguably their best European display but just as the Belgians were a different side in Glasgow last night, so too were Celtic.

They were bashful hosts. Tentative in possession, gifting the ball frequently as they struggled to cope with an Anderlecht side who came flying out the traps at them.

When Jozo Simunovic glanced a header into his own net with just over half an hour of this game left, the palpable anxiety that had been a running thread in Celtic’s performance threatened to unravel.

To their credit, they steadied themselves as saw it out but the 1-0 defeat means that the Parkhead side have gone without a home win in the Champions League for four years since they beat Ajax, a record many associated with the club will baulk at given the fortess the name once represented.

The celebrations at the end of the game were relatively muted from both players and supporters given the antsy, edgy nature of the 90 minutes that had proceeded it.

Read more: Celtic through but celebrations thin on the ground

It would be churlish to be overly critical – Anderlecht’s budget far outweighs Celtic’s – but perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the evening was the meekness of some of those who were front and centre last term.

Stuart Armstrong had a difficult night and there was little surprise when he was replaced by Oliver Ntcham at the interval. Scott Sinclair too stayed inside at the break with the Englishman never quite finding the form this term that was endemic to the way that Celtic played this time last year.

Ntcham and Tom Rogic gave Celtic a different dynamic and the former particularly seemed to find his way quickly into the game.

But the very fact that Celtic had made it into the in without their goal being breached at the break at all would have felt like a triumph in itself.

Goalkeeper Craig Gordon’s distribution had Rodgers shaking his head with some exasperation on one or two occasions in the dug-out - a recurring theme in that opening half as his frustration with various players grew.

Gordon's early block to deny what appeared like a likely goal was difficult to underestimate in terms of its importance.

Read more: Celtic captain Scott Brown: I will never be fit to lace Kenny Dalglish’s boots

There were just three minutes on the clock when Sofiane Hanni – who would go on to hog the spotlight for the bulk of the night – teed up Henry Onyekuru, a target of Celtic’s last season – and Sven Kums shot was blocked by a desperate leg stuck out by Gordon.

Had that one gone in it may well have proven to have been the beginning of the end for Celtic given the passive mood that seemed to characterise the Parkhead side’s performance.

Where Celtic were casual and profligate with the ball, the Belgians were fast, aggressive and direct; Hanni caused problems from those opening minutes with the Anderlecht captain allowed way too much influence to pull the strings.

Celtic responded by encouraging skipper Scott Brown to try and stick to the player but Brown, making history as became the Scot with the most appearances in the Champions League, will be forgiven for the quiet hope that even if he plays another 69 games in this tournament he avoids crossing paths with the Algerian.

Brown was deserving of credit for the manner in which he stuck to his task but Hanni was clever, deft and slick with a lightness of touch that caused significant consternation to the home side.

Read more: Celtic captain Scott Brown: I will never be fit to lace Kenny Dalglish’s boots

Moussa Dembele, who has risen to the fore so often on this stage for Celtic, couldn’t find his groove.

The French striker was declared fit to start and lead the line but struggled to cause any damage with the long balls that Celtic got up to him.

The message from Rodgers was clear at the break as he looked to change the complexion of the evening.

There was an almost immediate impact with Ntcham linking quickly with Kieran Tierney to send an inviting ball into the box. Ultimately it did not bear fruit but where it did succeed in briefly lifting the mood inside the ground.

With the personnel in the middle of the park altered, Forrest too was able to show a glimpse of the form that has earned him the plaudits of his manager of late.

The winger got going with a driving run before cutting inside and clipping the ball to Tierney before receiving the pass back in the box and drawing a save from Frank Boeckx who tipped the ball around the post.

It was at the other end, though, that there was real anxiety when Dennis Appiah whipped a delivery into the box that Simunivic glanced into his own net as he rose to twist and bullet a header that came off the inside of the post before beating Gordon.

Read more: Celtic through but celebrations thin on the ground

The defender almost atoned for indiscretion almost immediately after with a volley at the other end of the park that whizzed just over the bar.

McGregor and Tierney combined again with the latter whipping a pacey ball across goal for Dembele only for the ball to get stuck under the studs of the striker giving Anderlecht the chance to clear the danger.

It was Dembele’s last involvement of the game as he was replaced by Odsonne Edouard, the teenager who scored a hat-trick over Motherwell on Saturday afternoon.

He looked lively but it was Anderlecht who almost snatched a late second.

Celtic held on but it will interesting to see if they can find their nerve in the Europa League.