Scottish Premiership
CelticCeltic2MotherwellMotherwell0

Celtic 2-0 Motherwell: Champions win to stay top of the Premiership

By Tom EnglishBBC Scotland at Celtic Park

Celtic remain top of the Scottish Premiership following a routine victory at home to Motherwell.

Odsonne Edouard slammed the champions in front when the ball broke his way in a busy penalty box.

The visitors improved after the break as Celtic's tempo dipped but Richard Tait knocked in an own goal from a Jonny Hayes cross.

With Rangers winning by the same scoreline at Livingston, Neil Lennon's side stay ahead by a one-goal margin.

Celtic have now enjoyed seven successive wins in all competitions since losing at Livingston in early October, while this was a fourth clean sheet in a row in the league.

Motherwell, who sit fourth, were well-organised and aggressive, with Declan Gallagher a stand-out in defence during the first 45 minutes, but never threatened home goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

Visitors retain pride as hosts continue to fly

Stephen Robinson, the Motherwell manager, has been much talked about this week, the Northern Irishman being linked with not just one job or two jobs, but three jobs. He's been mentioned in dispatches for the vacant positions at Hearts and Hibs and now there's an opening with his national team following on from Michael O'Neill getting the Stoke role, he's been linked with that position as well.

He brushed all that chat aside in the minutes before this game. Robinson, more than most, knows the scale of the challenge when you fetch up in the east end of Glasgow. He had enough on his plate without yakking about what life might be like on distant pastures.

Motherwell haven't beaten Celtic in four years - in the time since they've shipped four goals twice, five goals three times and seven goals once - and as a good as their season has been so far nobody would have held out much hope for them bringing that run to an end here.

Back from Rome with a win over Lazio, a second victory in recent weeks against the Italians, the champions are flying right now. They might have taken a little while to hit their straps, but there was a sense of inevitability about it all.

The visitors shouldn't be disheartened. They dug in. At no point did their spirits drop. They're a confident team and they should move on from this quickly. They had one of the best players on the park in Gallagher, a centre-half who covered the ground wonderfully, who tackled and blocked and defended manfully. The fact he was involved in the concession of the first goal was cruel on him. Gallagher was a big leader for Motherwell.

League table

They had a few moments in attack - Allan Campbell had a back-post volley, Jake Carroll fizzed one across the six-yard box - but those moments have to stick when you're playing a super confident Celtic.

Having scored the winner in Rome, Olivier Ntcham was impressive again in the heart of Celtic's midfield. Up front, Edouard looked exactly what he is - a striker with great movement, a great touch, loads of intelligence and too much ruthlessness. Celtic weren't at their free-flowing best but they were good enough.

Edouard got the opener when Mohamed Elyounoussi cut in from the left and tried to link with James Forrest. Gallagher was on the scene and in an attempt to clear it he merely helped it on to Edouard who finished with aplomb, his swift execution soaring beyond Mark Gillespie.

Celtic continued to dominate possession and Motherwell continued to defend stoutly. Edouard fired over as did Elyounoussi. Hayes lashed one at Gillespie but the goalkeeper beat it away at his near post.

The second goal duly came early in the new half when Edouard played it wide to Hayes whose cross from the left was turned into his own net by Tait.

There was talk during the week that Leigh Griffiths might make a reappearance for this one, but there was no sign of him. Lennon said that his fitness is still a little off. Scott Sinclair was not in the squad either. Lewis Morgan was on the bench ahead of him. Mikey Johnston was absent as well. So many good players and yet so little need for them.

Ryan Christie started on the bench but came on in the second half just when Celtic's threat started to grow again. Gillespie earned his corn in the latter stages. Christie had two efforts saved by the goalkeeper. Hayes put in a sumptuous cross that Ntcham came close to turning in. Jeremie Frimpong tested Gillespie twice while Edouard looked to have set up Ntcham only for the midfielder to direct his shot straight at the busy keeper.

Man of the match - Odsonne Edouard

Odsonne Edouard knocks in the opening goal at Celtic Park - his 13th of the season
Odsonne Edouard knocks in the opening goal at Celtic Park - his 13th of the season

Motherwell had two contenders in Gallagher and Gillespie. Hayes was excellent for Celtic, as was Ntcham.

Edouard gets the award for scoring the first and displaying an all-round quality that marks him out as an outstanding footballer.

'Fantastic & magnificent' - reaction

Celtic manager Neil Lennon: "It's another fantastic performance after Thursday. Since the Livingston defeat we've won all our games in all competitions so the response has been magnificent."

Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson: "I'm pleased with the performance but not the result. If you come to Celtic Park and lose with two goals like that then you've done something right. There was a lot of positives to take from a young side."

Line-ups

Celtic

  • 67Forster
  • 30Frimpong
  • 2Jullien
  • 35Ajer
  • 15Hayes
  • 8Brown
  • 42McGregor
  • 49ForrestSubstituted forChristieat 67'minutes
  • 21Ntcham
  • 27ElyounoussiSubstituted forMorganat 86'minutes
  • 22Edouard

Substitutes

  • 1Gordon
  • 3Taylor
  • 6Bitton
  • 13Bauer
  • 16Morgan
  • 17Christie
  • 18Rogic

Motherwell

  • 20Gillespie
  • 4Grimshaw
  • 31Gallagher
  • 24Mugabi
  • 2TaitSubstituted forHyltonat 68'minutes
  • 3Carroll
  • 6Campbell
  • 15Maguire
  • 19Polworth
  • 9LongSubstituted forSeedorfat 68'minutes
  • 44ColeSubstituted forScottat 80'minutesBooked at 87mins

Substitutes

  • 1Carson
  • 8Sloth
  • 11Seedorf
  • 12Manzinga
  • 14Hylton
  • 17Scott
  • 25Semple
Referee:
Alan Muir
Attendance:
57,137

Match Stats

Home TeamCelticAway TeamMotherwell
Possession
Home66%
Away34%
Shots
Home16
Away6
Shots on Target
Home6
Away0
Corners
Home8
Away5
Fouls
Home7
Away12

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Celtic 2, Motherwell 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Celtic 2, Motherwell 0.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Sherwin Seedorf (Motherwell) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Jermaine Hylton.

  4. Booking

    James Scott (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

  5. Post update

    Ryan Christie (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Jake Carroll (Motherwell).

  7. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Lewis Morgan replaces Mohamed Elyounoussi.

  8. Post update

    Jonny Hayes (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  9. Post update

    Foul by Sherwin Seedorf (Motherwell).

  10. Post update

    Hand ball by Liam Grimshaw (Motherwell).

  11. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Jermaine Hylton (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Liam Polworth with a cross.

  12. Post update

    Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Jonny Hayes.

  13. Substitution

    Substitution, Motherwell. James Scott replaces Devante Cole.

  14. Post update

    Attempt saved. Jeremie Frimpong (Celtic) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Scott Brown.

  15. Post update

    Attempt saved. Olivier Ntcham (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Odsonne Edouard.

  16. Post update

    Jeremie Frimpong (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Jermaine Hylton (Motherwell).

  18. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Jake Carroll.

  19. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Jeremie Frimpong (Celtic) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

  20. Post update

    Attempt saved. Ryan Christie (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic1210113672931
2Rangers1210113572831
3Aberdeen137332015524
4Motherwell137152019122
5Kilmarnock135351215-318
6Ross County133551528-1314
7Livingston133461619-313
8Hibernian122641623-712
9Hearts122551517-211
10Hamilton132561424-1011
11St Johnstone122461228-1610
12St Mirren12228716-98
View full Scottish Premiership table

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