Caley Thistle and Celtic shared a 1-1 draw at Caledonian Stadium, with both goals coming in the opening four minutes.
The Hoops got off to the perfect start thanks to Leigh Griffiths’ third-minute opener, however within 60 seconds Nigerian attacker Edward Ofere levelled with his second goal for the club.
However, the rest of the game failed to live up to its frantic opening, in a match overshadowed by returning goalkeeper Dean Brill being stretchered off with a knee injury, just 14 minutes into his return from an injury of the same kind.
Caley Thistle manager John Hughes handed Ofere just his third start up front, while there were also recalls for attacking midfielder Ryan Christie and goalkeeper Brill. The trio replaced Nick Ross, Aaron Doran and Ryan Esson from the side defeated 1-0 by Aberdeen on Wednesday.
Celtic also made three changes from the side that defeated Partick Thistle 2-0 on Wednesday, with captain Scott Brown, attacker Griffiths and defender Efe Ambrose returning. Kris Commons, John Guidetti and Adam Matthews dropped out.
The early set-back Inverness were dreading arrived just three minutes in. Brown launched a 50 yard ball forward, which was collected by Griffiths, who struck low into Brill’s bottom corner from the edge of the box.
However, the Caley Jags’ response was immediate, as they levelled within 60 seconds. Marley Watkins teed the ball up for David Raven, who drilled the ball across the face of goal. Christie’s initial flick was blocked on the line by Hoops defender Jason Denayer, but Ofere was on hand to turn the rebound home.
The hosts were dealt a blow on 14 minutes however, in an agonising moment for returning goalkeeper Brill. As he attempted to clear the ball, Brill was closed down by Gary Mackay-Steven, whose momentum saw him come down on the Englishman’s left knee. After a five-minute wait, during which time Brill required oxygen, he was stretchered off to be replaced by Esson.
The former Aberdeen goalkeeper came up to the task on 40 minutes, superbly tipping Ambrose’s header over the bar from Stefan Johansen’s free-kick.
Both sides threatened at the start of the second-half, with Ofere glancing wide with a free header from Greg Tansey, before Esson again reacted well to palm Denayer’s header over.
As the second-half progressed, clear-cut chances increasingly eluded both sides, with long-range attempts from Raven and Greg Tansey breezing narrowly over.
However the game fizzled out, with nothing to separate the sides ahead of next Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final between the pair at Hampden Park.