Phil McGhee at Celtic Park
Motherwell were looking to make it a magnificent seven consecutive wins but it was Celtic who extended their winning run with a 3-0 victory.
However the scoreline, with a double from Kris Commons including one from the penalty spot and an own goal from Stephen McManus, doesn’t reflect the balance of play or Motherwell’s contribution to a entertaining ninety minutes.
And while up against an inform Celtic, it was amazingly that despite creating a host of chances, ‘Well’s goal drought at Celtic Park extended to eight games.
Intent on maintaining their winning run and breaking that goal hoodoo, Stuart McCall started with a positive line-up with James McFadden supporting John Sutton through the middle and Lionel Ainsworth supplying from the right.
However, it was the defence, with Zaine Francis-Angol covering for the injured Simon Ramsden, which was under immediate pressure.
Inside ninety seconds Gunnar Neilsen had to punch out a swerving freekick from Kris Commons.
Four minutes later Anthony Stokes beyond the ‘Well back four and although Neilsen got down to push out the striker’s shot, Commons followed up to stroke the ball beyond the ‘keeper to make it 1-0.
There were claims for offside against the Irishman but assistant Alan Mulvanny was adament the striker had time his run to perfection and waves away protests.
The visitor’s might have conceded a second goal as Celtic delivered a couple of inviting balls across the six-yard box, with no takers.
Gradually, though, ‘Well gained some composure and after 12 minutes might have been level.
Ian Vigurs sent in the free kick and Shaun Hutchison’s flick on found Sutton inside the six-yard box the ball bounced off his thigh into Fraser Forster’s hands.
The Fir Park side then had a bit more of the play around the home side’s box.
McFadden tried his luck from 20 yards but his shot was deflected to give the ‘keeper an easy save. Then after 24 minutes, the 48-times capped forward skipped past Efe Ambrose before sweeping the ball across the six-yard line and just beyond Sutton’s sliding boot.
Bobby Madden upset the home crowd when James Forrest’s angled drive got the merest of touches from the diving Nielsen to take the ball beyond the post, only for referee to award a goal kick. Within a minute the official compounded his mistakewhen, Ainsworth drove the ball beyond Forster’s reach but was rewarded with a corner.
Nielsen was tested again but Charlie Mulgrew’s powerful header was straight at the ‘keeper.
Six minutes from half-time ‘Well conceded a sucker second goal.
Stokes again raced through and as he rounded Niesen inside the box the ‘keeper brought him down earning the Faroese International a booking and Celtic a penalty. With the ‘Well ‘keeper diving to his left ,Commons hammered the spot kick high down the middle to make it 2-0.
Far from being dispirited the Fir Park side continued to make a game of it in the seond half and should have at least a couple of goas to show for their efforts.
After 52 minutes Vigurs’ curling shot was dipping under the bar but Forster’s flap sent the ball bouncing in front of McFadden who couldn’t capitalise on the ‘keeper’s mistake.
The Celtic ‘keeper was at his internationlist best though a minute later when the ball broke to McFadden eight yards out whose placed shot was brilliantly blocked by Forster.
It was end to end stuff and in the next Celtic attack Stokes’ shot bounced off the top of the cross bar.
Motherwell’s replied with Sutton setting Vigurs towards the home goal but he was downed as he rounded Ambrose who, although booked, may have been a little fortunate with Vigurs looking to be in on Forster. The ball spinning towards the corner probably saved the Nigerian.
Any faint hopes of a fightback were killed in the 68th minute when James Forrest raced to the goal line before drilling the ball across the goal, only for McManus to slash the ball behind Nielsen.
It was harsh on the former Celtic captain, who had put in a solid performance throughout.
Ten minutes from time Celtic were reduced to ten men when Stokes’ late tackle on Lasley resulted in a straight red card. Despite the extra man, and continuing to push towards the home goal, ‘Well couldn’t make the break through their play deserved.
In the closing minutes Scott Brown drilled a 20 yard drive just outside Nielsen’s left hand post, Vigurs flashed a similar effort narrowly close before McFadden’s mazy run and shot brought a thoroughly entertaining encounter to a conclusion.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Celtic Park
FT: Celtic 3 – 0 Motherwell #CFCvMFC
4 minutes added on #CFCvMFC
89mins: Vigurs inches wide with a stunning effort from 25 yards #CFCvMFC
87mins: Celtic sub, Balde on for Ambrose #CFCvMFC
80mims: Celtic sub, Pukki on for Commons #CFCvMFC
79mins: RED CARD – Stokes off for a heavy challenge on Lasley #CFCvMFC
75mins: Motherwell sub, Sutton off for Anier #CFCvMFC
73mins: Motherwell sub, Kerr on for Ainsworth #CFCvMFC
68mins: GOAL! – A McManus OG makes it 3-0 #CFCvMFC
67mins: Celtic break and Commons curls his shot just past the post #CFCvMFC
65mins: Ball drops to Vigurs at the she of the box but his half volley is sliced well over #CFCvMFC
…..Forster gathers Ainsworth’s shot #CFCvMFC
61mins: Ambrose booked as ‘Well set up a FK in a good position…..
58mins: Stokes hits the bar with a curling right footed effort from 25 yards #CFCvMFC
54mins: Glorious chance for McFadden as the ball drops to him 10 yards out. denied by Forster’s foot! #CFCvMFC
52mins: Vigurs very unlucky as his bedding strike is saved by Forster who look uncomfortable #CFCvMFC
49mins: Brown sets up van Dijk on the edge of the box. Fires well over #CFCvMFC
Second half underway #CFCvMFC
Teams are back out for the second half CFCvMFC
HT: Celtic 2 – 0 Motherwell
1 minute added on
39mins: Penalty to Celtic……Goal! Commons makes it 2-0 CFCvMFC
28mins: Forrest glides past Hutchinson and gets a shot away on his left foot. Inches past the left hand post #CFCvMFC
24mins: Great play from McFadden to skip past Ambrose and get a good ball in. Sutton not far away from connecting. #CFCvMFC
20mins: Faddy tries his luck from range but a deflection takes the sting out it and Forster gathers with ease #CFCvMFC
15mins: Fisher booked for a clumsy tackle on Vigurs #CFCvMFC
12mins: Free-kick to ‘Well from a tight angle. Delivery finds Hutchinson who heads down to the thigh of Sutton. Straight at Forster #CFCvMFC
9mins: McManus booked for hauling down Forrest mid way into the ‘Well half #CFCvMFC
9mins: Commons tests Nielsen again from range but his curling effort lacks power #CFCvMFC
5mins: GOAL! – Commons makes it 1-0 after tapping home a rebound from Stokes’ shot #CFCvMFC
3mins: Celtic win a corner but Commons’ ball in eludes everyone. Goal kick to ‘Well #CFCvMFC
1min: Early free kick to Celtic, narrow angle in the right….Nielsen punches clear #CFCvMFC
We are underway here at Celtic Park! #COYW #CFCvMFC
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“That’s as well as we’ve played at Celtic Park in an attacking sense.
“I’m disappointed we haven’t scored.
“We didn’t cave in after losing the early goal. We’ve a lot to take for the game.”
Celtic manager Neil Lennon:
“That’s the best we’ve played at home this season. You’ve got to give Motherwell credit too.
“Our attacking play was sensational at times and Motherwell found it very difficult to cope with us.
“It was a brilliant atmosphere, I thought crowd were brilliant and I really enjoyed the whole afternoon.”