A goal in each half, laced with a bit of fortune, eased Celtic to a win over a Motherwell side which will take plaudits from their performance in Glasgow.
However, despite another decent showing against one of the big two, the Fir Park side again left the city with nothing to show for its efforts and positive approach to the fixture.
The Steelmen’s confident start to the season was apparent in the large periods of possession they enjoyed.
But on the two occasions that they looked to make an impact they lost goals. Firstly, to an Odsonne Edouard strike, midway through the first half, and then an own goal from Richard Tait nine minutes after the break, as ‘Well made a positive start to the second half.
Stephen Robinson made several changes in personnel and his starting formation for the visit to Celtic Park. Peter Hartley’s illness allowed Bevis Mugabi to start alongside Declan Gallagher, with Richard Tait on his left to form a central three in a flexible back five.
With Liam Donnelly suspended, Barry Maguire was handed the role in the centre of midfield.
Motherwell were hoping that Celtic’s colossal performance and result in Rome on Thursday would have an adverse effect on the Parkhead side. However, Neil Lennon’s men showed no signs of fatigue and were on the front foot from the first whistle.
Mark Gillespie made his first save after six minutes, throwing himself low to his left to push Odsonne Edouard’s low curling shot round his post.
Although a series of crosses whizzed across the ‘Well goal, the visitors were keen to get forward and support Devante Cole and Christopher Long.
After 10 minutes, Long had the first attempt at Fraser Forster’s goal, driving the ball a couple of metres wide of the target from 30 yards.
Three minutes later, only a fabulous tackle from Gallagher prevented Elyounoussi from opening the scoring after Maguire lost possession and the ‘Well defence was spliced wide open.
The Fir Park men then enjoyed a period of possession around the Celtic box. Liam Polworth’s corner was cleared and when the ‘Well midfielder regained possession on the left of the box, he released Cole but his half-hit effort was easily taken by Forster.
Just when Motherwell started to look comfortable on the ball they found themselves a goal down after 19 minutes.
Gallagher did well to track James Forrest’s run across the box. But the Fir Park defender was unlucky that his block sent the ball into the path of Edouard, who from 12 yards lashed the ball high past a helpless Gillespie.
Celtic seemed content with the lead and as Motherwell pushed for a quick equaliser they came within a few feet of drawing level in the 25th minute.
From wide on the left, Jake Carroll delivered a low tempting ball across the six-yard box with Long sliding in and failing to make contact, while Campbell fared no better as the ball sailed across the goal begging a touch.
Celtic’s ability to break with pace attempted to expose the Steelmen’s rearguard but Gillespie was generally well protected by his central defenders, as the Parkhead fired a few openings high over the ‘keeper’s crossbar.
Four minutes from the break, Tait delayed his free kick until Gallagher raced to the home box. And it almost paid off as the ex-Livi man’s knock down forced Forster to push the ball away from his goal, with Carroll unable to get onto to the loose ball.
Just before the break Hayes looked as if he would cross the ball, but instead pinged a shot at goal which Gillespie beat away, for only his second save of the game.
Only a goal behind, the ‘Well players still looked undaunted as the second half began. Within a couple of minutes, Gallagher’s long throw into a packed Celtic box was only partially cleared, but from 20 yards Polworth slashed his shot wide of goal.
Play continued around the home box as Carroll’s long throw failed to reach Gallagher before Polworth’s free kick, from a good position, harmlessly floated into Forster’s hands.
However, once again as Motherwell thought they might find a way back into the game, they conceded a killer second goal.
Ironically, Tait found the touch that eluded Long in the first half. Unfortunately, the full back slid into the six-yard box to connect with Jonny Hayes’ low cross, he stabbed the ball past Gillespie and into his own net.
Motherwell continued to give the Celtic defence some concern and Carroll’s low ball forced Christopher Julien, under pressure from tireless running Cole, to sweep the ball behind his own goal.
Despite the two goal lead, the Parkhead fans were unhappy with amount of possession given to the visitors.
And with around 25 minutes remaining, and Stephen Robinson suspecting that a Motherwell goal might raise the anxiety in the stands, ‘Well changed to a more attack-minded formation bringing on wide men Jermaine Hylton and Sherwin Seedorf.
It was Celtic substitute Ryan Christie, though, who forced a rare save from Gillespie, the keeper going to ground to smother a low drive. Gillespie made one more stop on a relatively quiet afternoon at Celtic Park, sticking out his left boot to force Olivier Ntcham’s angled drive away from his goal.
The final change for ‘Well came after 79 minutes when James Scott replaced Cole in a final effort to break down the Parkhead defence.
With Celtic perhaps jaded after their midweek efforts and Motherwell unable to grab a goal and lift the tempo of the game, the match drifted towards the final whistle.