Celtic's trip to Motherwell on Sunday always had more significance for Neil Lennon than this visit of Rennes.

Still, the Celtic manager can take heart from the manner in which his patchwork team recovered from Saturday's dismal home draw with Hibs. They also fought back from a goal behind.

What Celtic conceded in technical ability to the French side – and that was plenty – they made up for with commitment. Lennon needs similar effort levels if Celtic are to claw themselves closer to Rangers on the domestic front.

Progression from Group I remains possible for Celtic. Their opponents last night played the last four minutes with 10 men after Yann M'Vila picked up a second booking. Celtic would, however, swap progress in Europe for success closer to home. The first step with that in mind is seeing off Motherwell, who sit ahead of Lennon's men in the SPL.

Lennon's unsuccessful quest for consistency of selection was highlighted by the fact Glenn Loovens here became the eighth player already this season to captain Celtic. Amid a raft of injuries, this was a makeshift home line-up. It was also one which got off to the worst possible start. A corner which Celtic needn't have conceded resulted in Kader Mangane heading home Julien Féret's low, powerful cross.

Almost 10 years ago to the very day, Lennon formed part of a Celtic team which defeated Juventus in the Champions League. A decade on, the hosts spent the early exchanges as clearly second best to an athletic, threatening Rennes side.

A goalkeeping blunder allowed Celtic to restore parity. There seemed little menace in a long-range shot from James Forrest, yet Benoit Costil could only parry the attempt to the feet of Anthony Stokes, who slotted into an empty net. That goal steadied Celtic, with Forrest particularly prominent for the remainder of the first half. It was Stokes who sent them ahead, after some brilliantly route one stuff. Fraser Forster's goal kick was flicked on by Georgios Samaras, Stokes collecting the ball before offering a fine, angled finish.

Loovens was an enforced withdrawl at the interval, meaning a Celtic debut for the teenager Marcus Fraser and an addition to Lennon's casualty list. The replacement and his defensive colleagues looked on anxiously as Victor Montano somehow headed over the Celtic crossbar after an hour.

The impressive Victor Wanyama offered a Celtic response, with a shot which flew just wide. Forster then tipped Youssouf Hadji's attempt over the bar, before turning a header from the same player wide.

Gary Hooper endorsed the victory, playing a one-two with Samaras before slotting under Costil.