Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou praised his players for maintaining their winning domestic form through their hectic schedule despite not being completely satisfied with their Fir Park performance.
The cinch Premiership leaders failed to build on Kyogo Furuhashi’s early goal and Motherwell caused them problems before Daizen Maeda netted on an 84th-minute counter-attack to ultimately earn a 2-1 win.
Celtic have now won eight domestic games since running out against Motherwell on October 1 in a schedule that has also seen them play four times in the Champions League.
Postecoglou said: “It was a bit of a grind. We never really got into a rhythm.
“Credit to Motherwell, I thought they worked really hard to disrupt our game but we just didn’t start well and kind of complicated things, especially in the first half, and made life difficult for ourselves.
“When we play well, we move the ball quickly and find simple solutions. I thought we tried to be too cute and not play the obvious pass and trying to break through a little bit more direct.
“But away from home is not easy and to get another win is good. The fact we found a way again is credit to the lads.
“I don’t like to grind, mate, I prefer we play well, but you know over a course of a season that’s impossible.
“We have got to finish strong on Saturday (against Ross County) but we have had perfect league form in such fixture congestion. There wouldn’t be many teams in Europe that have gone through that period and had that level of results.
“Credit to the guys because it’s not easy even though we have a strong squad, but sometimes even making so many changes doesn’t help players.
“If we finish strong on Saturday, all the boys will feel better about themselves that they have managed to come through it.”
Motherwell quickly pulled a goal back through Ross Tierney following Maeda’s strike to leave manager Steven Hammell aggrieved at the manner of what proved to be the winner.
Motherwell left-back Matt Penney’s throw-in ultimately landed at the feet of David Turnbull, who found Maeda with a ball over the top, but the hosts wanted Willie Collum to look at the role of Celtic winger Sead Haksabanovic, who was told to go back off the field even after the goal following treatment.
“Matt took it quickly and the Celtic player stopped it from off the pitch,” Hammell said. “That was the frustration. Essentially the Celtic player has headed the ball on to the pitch.
“It’s not an excuse but we were wanting them to look at it. I don’t even know if they did, it was just dismissed quickly.
“Ultimately it was a chance to go on the attack and the Celtic player dismissed that at source and they go up the park and score. We would have liked them to have at least had a look at it.”
Hammell lost Kevin van Veen, Stuart McKinstry and Bevis Mugabi to injury but there were plenty of areas of encouragement for the hosts.
“As the game went on I felt we had a lot of momentum second half, we played with more intensity, we played higher up the pitch and a bit more aggressive,” he said. “Again we just fell short.”