Rumours of Celtic's dressing room resembling a Bosnian field hospital were somewhat exaggerated. But although some listed as hors de combat did start - like Thom and Marten Wieghorst - the principal challengers for the title were without their pounds 8.5m summer signings in Paolo Di Canio and Alan Stubbs. It had the effect of producing a disjointed opening 15 minutes for Celtic on a stifling, humid day. A breath of fresh air swept all that away, though, when Celtic took the lead, and the drift was strictly continental.
Jorge Cadete, the Portuguese striker, unselfishly set things up on a plate for Pierre van Hooijdonk to drill the ball in from eight yards.
Raith's captain, Jim McInally, was so incensed at the linesman for refusing to flag for offside that he was booked. Nine minutes later, Celtic stretched their advantage with a goal of sublime quality. Its origins were scrappy, as the Raith central defender Shaun Dennis delivered a bone-jarring tackle on Peter Grant in midfield. The ball broke to Wieghorst, whose pass released Thom to use his punishing pace before burying a 22-yard shot high past Thomson.
Cadete and Wieghorst should have added further goals by half-time, but their deft touches were let down by their accuracy.
The same charge could not be levelled at Thom, who made it 3-0 after 51 minutes, courtesy of sloppy defending. Browne, whose transfer fee from Aston Villa was set at pounds 125,000 during the week, cost Raith dear once more when he conceded a needless foul on Cadete outside the area.
Tosh McKinlay's free kick was allowed to pass unhindered to the back post where Thom hooked in his shot. Wieghorst almost made it four with a header but Thomson acrobatically touched it over for a corner, and then, in 58 minutes, Cadete hit the post with a clever shot.
Raith should have snatched a goal back when Rougier displayed some of his Caribbean dancing skills to evade the Celtic defence but then wasted the chance with only Celtic's keeper, Gordon Marshall, to beat.
Cadete again missed the chance to increase Celtic's lead when he was set free by a wonderful pass from Wieghorst but his indulgence inside the area saw him tackled before he could finish it off.
Raith reduced the deficit in 67 minutes when substitute Peter Duffield converted Lennon's cross at the second attempt.Reuse content