Phil McGhee at Fir Park
Motherwell earned their first point from Celtic this season after goals from Zaine Francis-Angol and a John Sutton doubled secured a 3-3 draw.
For the second consecutive match, ‘Well raced into a two-goal lead but the Parkhead side had fought back to take the lead five minutes from time it took an injury time equaliser to reward ‘Well for their fabulous contribution to an exciting game.
With captain Keith Lasley suspended, Jack Leitch Started in midfield with Craig Reid deployed in a holding role in front of the back four.
‘Well made the perfect start when they beat Fraser Forster for the first time this season.
The Parkhead defence failed to cut out Stephen McManus’ long floated pass, allowing John Sutton space in the box to drive a left foot shot across and under the ‘keeper’s body to give them a lead after only three minutes.
The Premiership Champions looked a bit stunned and as ‘Well grew in confidence, it should have been 2-0 after 13 minutes. A great through ball from Iain Vigurs sent Henri Anier haring towards the visitor’s goal but, after cutting across the box, the Estonian’s left foot shot was eventually blocked by Efe Ambrose.
Stephen McManus then had a brilliant block just outside the six-yard box to deny Scott Brown.
All Motherwell’s hard work looked to be undone when Vigurs’ trip on Anthony Stokes at the edge of the box presented Celtic with a penalty. Kris Commons, deadly from the spot this season, hammered his spot kick low to the right but Gunner Nielsen at full stretch palmed the ball off his line for a wonderful save.
That lifted ‘Well and Vigurs and then Leitch, who had another impressive game, drilled shots just wide of target.
Two minutes from the break the Fir Park side doubled their lead. Another long ball, this time from Hammell, floated over Celtic’s central defenders, and when Anier nudged the ball in front of Zaine Francis-Angol, the Antiguan squeezed his shot through Forster’s legs to make it 2-0.
That would have been commanding at half-time but for the third time in recent weeks, Stuart McCall’s men conceded a goal just before the break.
There appeared to be little danger as Stokes collected the ball deep inside the box with his back to goal but the striker turned and clipped a delightful shot high over the stretching Nielsen and under the cross bar.
While that gave Celtic the initiative to chase an equaliser from the start of the second half, Motherwell almost extended their lead after 53 minutes. Vigurs’ in-swinging corner found Fraser Kerr and his header was netbound until Beram Kayal stooped on the goal line to head clear.
Painfully, just two minutes later Celtic were level. Stokes shot was heading down the centre of the goal until Georgios Samaras stuck out a leg to redirect the ball high into the net.
It was the end-to-end stuff as both sides then went looking for a winner.
And after Leitch fired another shot narrowly wide Nielsen pulled of a great block to deny Brown.
Another inswinging corner from Vigurs caused panic in the Celtic goal forcing Forster to beat the ball off his line with claims it had already crept over.
With ten minutes remaining Neil Lennon’s men had another narrow escape when Anier turned well in the area but Forster excellently turned around his firm shot.
There were loud shouts for a penalty when Samaras appeared to control a cross with his hands but referee Craig Thomson waved aside claims. Television pictures would show it was an excellent decision from the official.
It turned out to be a doubly whammy five minutes later when Celtic grabbed the lead. Stokes ball from the edge of the box rolled in behind the home defence and Leigh Griffiths reacted quickest to sweep the ball behind Nielsen for what looked like the winner.
However with Craig Moore and Lionel Ainsworth coming off the bench ‘Well were determined to take something from the game and were rewarded in the final minute.
Reid, who had a terrific ninety minutes in his new role, fed the ball in behind Izaguirre leaving Ainsworth to race to the line before steering the ball across the goal line allowing Sutton to force the ball into the net for his 22nd goal of the season and boost ‘Well’s final push for a European place.
[tab:As it happened]
Alan Burrows at Fir Park
Full Time: Motherwell 3 – 3 Celtic. A deserved point for a hard-working Motherwell. What a shift they put in!
90mins+1: GET IT! GET IN! GET IN! Lovely ball across goal is turned in by Sutton at the back post.
90mins: There will be three minutes of time added on here at Fir Park.
90mins: Stokes turns well on the edge, but his low shot is well held by Nielsen.
88mins: Double sub for ‘Well. Moore and Ainsworth come on for the impressive Leitch and Henri Anier.
86mins: Football isn’t half cruel at times.
84mins: The sub makes a run from deep to get on the end of a Stokes through ball and coolly slots home.
GOAL Celtic! Leigh Griffiths makes it 3-2.
81mins: Big shouts for a handball against Samaras but it’s chest by the Greek forward. Good call by referee Craig Thomson to be fair.
81mins: Great stop by Forster to deny Anier. Turn and hit by the Estonian but it’s clawed away for a corner.
78mins: Almightily scramble inside the ‘Well six-yard box. It’s not properly cleared before Commons fires wide from 15 yards. Phew.
75mins: ‘Well float a free-kick into the area which is punched clear (to the half-way line no less) by Forster. Impressive.
73mins: Celtic make another change. Defender Herron comes off for striker Balde. Visitors have some amount of attackers on the pitch.
72mins: ‘Well apply some pressure but Celtic hold firm at the back. It’s anyone’s game here… Both teams deserve huge credit.
70mins: ‘Well get down the left flank – ZFA finds space, his ball is cut back for Sutton but Celtic forced into conceding a corner.
69mins: Lovely little Zidane-turn by Leitch gets away from Stokes before being fouled by Brown. Skills!
66mins: Celtic sub – Kayal comes off to be replaced by Leigh Griffiths. Visitors certainly going for it now.
65mins: Right down the other end, Hammell has to make an incredible last-ditch block to deny Commons again. What a game!
65mins: Incredible as Vigurs almost score directly from a corner. Great last-ditch block by Forster to save.
63mins: Celtic counter after robbing the ball in the middle of the park. Brown eventually get the ball but his shot is again saved by GN.
62mins: Intelligent little give and go move from Celtic – Kayal eventually get the shot away but it’s straight at Nielsen who saves.
61mins: Lovely little one-two move between Leitch and Vigurs. The former eventually gets a shot away on the stretch but it goes wide.
57mins: Wow – Celtic come close to making it 3-2. Corner to the back post finds van Dijk and he heads over. Let off there for sure.
56mins: Long throw in the box headed clear by McManus to Stokes. His shot is flicked into the net by Samaras from close range.
GOAL Samaras! 2-2 here at Fir Park.
54mins: Awww, ‘Well go so close to making it 3-1. Kerr’s header from a corner beats the ‘keeper but Kayal heads it off the line 🙁
52mins: van Dijk eventually takes the kick under the wall but it’s straight at Nielsen who collects.
51mins: Celtic have a free-kick about 25 yards out. Just right of centre. Quite a soft award by referee Thomson – Hammell on Commons.
50mins: Commons has the first effort of the second half, dragging a shot narrowly wide of Nielsen’s left hand post.
48mins: Celtic have switched too, away from the diamond and are now much more direct. Fascinating tactical battle.
48mins: Looks like a bit of a shape change for both sides. Sutton is deeper with Zaine over on the right!
46mins: Celtic get the second half going again – Motherwell now shooting towards the Cooper Stand.
Celtic are out already ready to go. Lennon has obviously gave them a clear and quick message. ‘Well coming out just now…
HT: Press Room 50/50 on Stokes shot vs cross debate. Excellent goal if he meant it. ‘Well need the same spirit again in the second 45.
HT: What a half of football that was. A bit of everything there. Celtic had loads of the ball, but ‘Well clinical. All to play for.
Half-time: Motherwell 2 – 1 Celtic
45mins: Celtic get a bit of luck as Stokes tries to hang up a cross to the back post but it drops into the corner.
GOAL Celtic! Stokes makes it 2-1.
44mins: Ball into the area is helped on by Henri Anier for the Antiguan International who pokes home under Forster. Incredible!
GOOOALLLL!!! ZAINE FRANCIS-ANGOL!!
42mins: Anier wins a corner of Ambrose but Celtic eventually clear the ball from Vigurs. Game stopped for a ‘Frimpong’ on Ambrose. #ouch
40mins: Kayal robs Vigurs in the middle of the park but when the Israeli took the shot on, he ballooned it high over the bar. Phew.
38mins: What a block by Stevie Hammell… Stops a certain Commons goal after Stokes’ low ball across the area. Brilliant from Hammy!
35mins: Kayal’s cross into the box almost has Commons in with the spectacular scissor kick but thankfully it hits a defender and is cleared.
33mins: ‘Well backline drop deep which allows Samaras in for a back post header… Thankfully it drops a yard or two past the post.
30mins: A Stokes shot from distance hits McManus on the head. Thankfully no penalty this week… Just a corner! :-p
26mins: Another wee half chance there. Good hassling allows Leitch in. Has options to his right but shoots high over the bar.
25mins: Decent ball into the box allows Sutton to leap but his header loops high and wide of target. Still 1-0 ‘Well here at Fir Park.
23mins: Down the other end, Vigurs is involved again but he drags a 25-yard shot a yard or so wide of the Forster’s post.
22mins: Celtic claim for another spot kick when Vigurs catches Commons. Looked like a foul, but outside the box. Ref doesn’t give anything.
SAVED!!! What a great block by Nielsen. That’s an incredible save by the Faroe Islander.
21mins: Penalty Celtic! Stokes goes down under after a tackle by Vigurs.
20mins: Celtic enjoying loads of the ball. They’ve had 74% possession in the last ten minutes. ‘Well working hard to contain.
19mins: Dutch defender van Dijk takes on a shot from distance but it sails high over the bar and into the Cooper Stand. Still 1-0 ‘Well.
17mins: Great block by McManus to deny Scott Brown (I think)… The experienced defender at full stretch to deny a certain goal.
14mins: Counter attack by Anier! Vigs puts the Estonian through but by the time he gets the shot away, it’s blocked out by Ambrose. Corner.
12mins: Good positive play down the right by Anier leads to an opening. Ball falls to ZFA but his cross is easily taken by Fraser Forster.
7mins: Izaguirre whips a decent ball into the area but Faroese International Gunnar Nielsen comes out well to collect.
4mins: Sutton gets onto a ball over the top of Ambrose and he fires it hard under Forster for 1-0. His 21st of the season. Great start…
GOOOALLLLLLL JOHN SUTTON!!!
3mins: Samaras has the first shot of the match, a Hutchinson clearance drops to the Greek striker but he curls it wide from 20 yards.
2mins: Celtic are on the attack. Couple of ball into the area that ping-pong around but the Steelmen hook them clear…
1min: Motherwell kick-off – shooting towards the Maxim Office South Stand…
The teams are coming out the tunnel and we’re almost ready to go! Good luck lads… #COYW
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“I really enjoyed that, I’m so proud of the lads today. I thought we played our best football at 2-2.
“We’ve done it so often this season, we lose silly goals right on half-time but it was a great goal by Stokes. We knew Celtic would come at us in the second half and they got an early goal.
“But we got what we deserved. There were some massive performances from the players.
“They looked dead on their feet but they dug out a point and next week’s game against Dundee United is massive.”
Celtic manager Neil Lennon:
“I am annoyed. We were poor defensively first half, gifted Motherwell two goals with poor defending.
“There was definitely a psychological edge missing first half. We got all that back in the second half, we were fantastic, and we should have won the game.
“We dominated the second-half from start to finish but switched off. Motherwell had one attack and scored from it.
“On the counter attack we had three four or five really good chances to make the game safe.
“The keeper has made a great save from the penalty, so overall, attacking wise, we were really very good, defensively we were sloppy.
“We were done with a straight ball for the first one but I think the keeper should save it, the second one we have missed the flight of a cross and the third one Emilio (Izaguirre) is sleeping and they have got in behind us.
“But I am really pleased with the quality and character in the second half.”