Celtic moved nine points clear at the top of the Scottish Premier League with a hard-fought win over Motherwell.

Gary Hooper notched the crucial goal from close range just as it looked as though neither team would find the net despite a plethora of chances.

Moments earlier Tom Hateley saw his penalty saved by Fraser Forster after Kelvin Wilson's foul on Jamie Murphy.

It means Celtic head into the winter break with a commanding lead at the top as they seek to defend their SPL title.

Celtic started extremely brightly and looked like they'd gone ahead just two minutes in, when Georgios Samaras glanced Kris Commons' superb cross into the net, but the assistant referee's flag cut short the early celebrations.

That set the tone for the opening period as the home side bombarded Darren Randolph's goal.

Jamie Murphy

Sheffield United-bound Jamie Murphy was emotional at the end of his final game for Motherwell

Commons fired just wide from the edge of the box, Randolph saved a close-range Hooper shot, with Commons' follow-up well blocked by the under-fire Motherwell defence, and the keeper did brilliantly to tip Charlie Mulgrew's top-corner-bound free kick over the bar - all that within the opening ten minutes.

Motherwell, playing an unconventional back three, eventually forced their way into the match and the departing Murphy should have done better than to blaze over the bar from the edge of the box.

With eight minutes to go before the break, Murphy lost Kayal with a change of pace but his shot, intended to curl in at the far post, instead drifted wide.

That triggered another spate of Celtic chances, with Samaras having a header booted off the line by Simon Ramsden, Commons drifting a shot just over and Samaras again forcing Randolph to get down sharply to hold a shot from the edge of the penalty area.

But the best chance of the half came in the closing seconds.

Victor Wanyama headed a Mulgrew corner back across goal and Randolph failed to gather, but with the goal gaping, Ambrose knocked the ball over from underneath the bar.

The chances continued to flow as the second half got under way, with Wilson foiling Murphy with a terrific last-ditch challenge.

Randolph pushed Wanyama's deflected shot over and after flapping at the corner, the keeper saved well from Samaras.

As the game entered the final 20 minutes, play was ebbing and flowing like a basketball match and Motherwell earned a potentially match-winning opportunity when Murphy was adjudged to have been fouled in the box by Wilson.

But though Hateley's spot-kick looked well enough hit, Forster threw himself to the right to keep it out.

And Celtic made Motherwell pay when Hooper put them in front with 10 minutes to play, tucking Samaras's cross away with typical aplomb.

Though Motherwell competed well with Celtic, as several clubs have done so far this season, with a nine-point lead at this stage, the league title seems certain to remain at Celtic Park.

Lineup, Bookings (6) & Substitutions (5)

Celtic

  • 01 Forster Booked
  • 02 Matthews
  • 03 Izaguirre
  • 04 Ambrose (Rogne - 84' )
  • 06 Wilson
  • 21 Mulgrew Booked
  • 15 Commons (McGeouch - 82' )
  • 33 Kayal Booked (Watt - 72' )
  • 67 Wanyama Booked
  • 09 Samaras
  • 88 Hooper

Substitutes

  • 24 Zaluska
  • 25 Rogne
  • 43 Chalmers
  • 20 McCourt
  • 46 McGeouch
  • 11 Nouioui
  • 32 Watt

Motherwell

  • 01 Randolph
  • 03 Hammell
  • 15 Ramsden
  • 19 Kerr
  • 26 Francis-Angol (Daley - 86' )
  • 04 Law
  • 06 Hateley
  • 07 Humphrey
  • 14 Lasley Booked
  • 08 Ojamaa Booked (McHugh - 86' )
  • 11 Murphy

Substitutes

  • 12 Hollis
  • 30 Cummins
  • 17 Daley
  • 18 Carswell
  • 27 Hetherington
  • 09 Higdon
  • 16 McHugh
Ref: Mclean
Att: 48,002

Match Stats

Shots

18 8

On target

10 2

Corners

12 5

Fouls

4 7

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +4:04 Full time

Full Time The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.

90:00 +3:18

Dylan McGeouch decides to take the corner short.

90:00 +3:06

Dylan McGeouch takes a shot. Stevie Hammell gets a block in.

89:14

Corner taken right-footed by Tom Hateley, Headed effort from deep inside the area by Keith Lasley misses to the left of the goal.

88:07

Fraser Forster restarts play with the free kick.

88:07 Booking

Booking Keith Lasley is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.

87:52

The assistant referee flags for offside against Keith Lasley.

86:20

Robert McHugh gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Adam Matthews. Direct free kick taken by Charlie Mulgrew.

85:04 Substitution

Substitution Robert McHugh joins the action as a substitute, replacing Henrik Ojamaa.

85:04 Substitution

Substitution Omar Daley on for Zaine Francis-Angol.

83:02

Short corner taken by Tom Hateley from the left by-line.

83:02 Substitution

Substitution Thomas Rogne replaces Efe Ambrose.

81:22 Substitution

Substitution Dylan McGeouch comes on in place of Kris Commons.

78:49

Assist by Georgios Samaras.

78:49 Goal scored

Goal! - Gary Hooper - Celtic 1 - 0 Motherwell Gary Hooper scores a goal from close in low into the middle of the goal. Celtic 1-0 Motherwell.

77:11

Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Charlie Mulgrew, Zaine Francis-Angol makes a clearance.

76:48

Nicky Law crosses the ball.

76:24

Short corner taken by Tom Hateley.

76:19 Penalty

A save by Fraser Forster from penalty by Tom Hateley. Celtic 0-0 Motherwell.

75:49 Booking

Booking Fraser Forster booked.

75:22 Booking

Booking Victor Wanyama is shown a yellow card for dissent.

75:01

Foul by Kelvin Wilson on Jamie Murphy, Penalty awarded.

73:43

Jamie Murphy crosses the ball, Fraser Forster makes a save.

73:23

Tony Watt takes a shot. Save by Darren Randolph.

71:17 Substitution

Substitution Beram Kayal leaves the field to be replaced by Tony Watt.

71:04

Tom Hateley has an effort at goal from outside the box which goes wide right of the target.

66:34

Kris Commons takes a shot. Save by Darren Randolph.

66:15

Unfair challenge on Georgios Samaras by Fraser Kerr results in a free kick. Beram Kayal takes the direct free kick.

65:10

The referee blows for offside against Chris Humphrey. Fraser Forster restarts play with the free kick.

62:30

Free kick awarded for a foul by Keith Lasley on Charlie Mulgrew. Direct free kick taken by Kelvin Wilson.

61:16

Free kick awarded for a foul by Keith Lasley on Kris Commons. Free kick taken by Charlie Mulgrew.

58:28

Shot from just outside the penalty area by Beram Kayal misses to the left of the target.

58:04

Charlie Mulgrew takes the inswinging corner, Fraser Kerr makes a clearance.

56:42

Keith Lasley has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the left of the goal.

55:18

Corner taken by Charlie Mulgrew from the left by-line, Darren Randolph makes a save.

54:32

Corner taken by Charlie Mulgrew from the right by-line, Darren Randolph makes a save.

54:32 Booking

Booking Henrik Ojamaa shown a yellow card.

51:19

Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Charlie Mulgrew, Zaine Francis-Angol manages to make a clearance.

51:04

Victor Wanyama takes a shot. Darren Randolph makes a save.

49:04 Booking

Booking Beram Kayal booked.

48:24

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jamie Murphy by Beram Kayal. Darren Randolph restarts play with the free kick.

47:33

Zaine Francis-Angol gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Adam Matthews. Charlie Mulgrew takes the free kick.

45:29

Shot from outside the box by Keith Lasley misses to the left of the target.

45:01

The referee starts the second half.

45:00 +1:02 Half time

Half Time The first half comes to an end.

45:00 +0:31

Close range effort by Efe Ambrose goes over the bar.

45:00 +0:02

Charlie Mulgrew takes a inswinging corner.

44:54

Georgios Samaras takes a shot. Fraser Kerr gets a block in.

40:06

Georgios Samaras takes a shot. Darren Randolph makes a save.

38:11

Effort on goal by Kris Commons from just inside the area clears the crossbar.

36:44

Jamie Murphy has an effort at goal from the edge of the area that misses to the right of the target.

36:17

Jamie Murphy takes a shot. Fraser Forster makes a save.

35:17

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Charlie Mulgrew by Chris Humphrey. Direct free kick taken by Emilio Izaguirre.

33:09

Short corner worked by Tom Hateley.

31:26

Free kick taken by Stevie Hammell.

31:26 Booking

Booking Charlie Mulgrew is booked.

31:17

Tom Hateley fouled by Charlie Mulgrew, the ref awards a free kick.

30:11

Nicky Law takes a shot. Blocked by Efe Ambrose.

29:31

Corner from right by-line taken by Tom Hateley.

24:24

Inswinging corner taken by Kris Commons.

20:54

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kris Commons by Stevie Hammell. The ball is sent over by Charlie Mulgrew, Effort on goal by Efe Ambrose from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.

19:21

Jamie Murphy takes a shot from just inside the penalty box which clears the crossbar.

17:36

Long distance shot from Victor Wanyama misses to the left of the goal.

15:18

Effort on goal by Georgios Samaras from deep inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.

14:40

Unfair challenge on Tom Hateley by Beram Kayal results in a free kick. Tom Hateley restarts play with the free kick.

13:34

The referee blows for offside. Free kick taken by Darren Randolph.

9:41

Corner taken left-footed by Charlie Mulgrew, clearance by Stevie Hammell.

9:34

Georgios Samaras delivers the ball, clearance made by Simon Ramsden.

8:31

Kris Commons takes a shot. Darren Randolph makes a save.

7:49

Corner taken by Charlie Mulgrew from the left by-line.

6:52

Nicky Law is adjudged to have handled the ball. Shot on goal comes in from Charlie Mulgrew from the free kick, save by Darren Randolph.

6:17

Gary Hooper takes a shot. Save by Darren Randolph.

5:40

Gary Hooper produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.

4:42

Kris Commons has an effort at goal from the edge of the box that misses to the right of the target.

3:18

Charlie Mulgrew takes the outswinging corner, clearance made by Tom Hateley.

1:34

The official flags Georgios Samaras offside. Darren Randolph restarts play with the free kick.

1:01

Corner taken left-footed by Kris Commons, clearance made by Stevie Hammell.

0:49

Centre by Gary Hooper, Nicky Law makes a clearance.

0:00

The referee gets the game started.

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