15 Oct Celtic 2 good for ‘Well
Celtic cemented their place at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership with a routine and mostly trouble-free 2-0 win over Motherwell at Parkhead.
Hoops forward Scott Sinclair steered in the opener after 18 minutes with Moussa Dembele and Kieran Tierney hitting the woodwork before the break.
Brendan Rodgers’ side controlled the second-half as well but had to wait until three minutes remaining to be sure of the points with Dembele scoring from the spot after he had been brought down by Well keeper Craig Samson.
Celtic remained four points ahead of Aberdeen with a game in hand and now turn their attention to the visit of Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
The Steelmen had lost 12 goals in their previous two games in the east end of Glasgow and will be glad the scoreline was not so damaging although they never looked like pulling off a shock win.
Rodgers demonstrated the depth of his squad by bringing in midfielder Liam Henderson for his first start of the season.
He was one of three changes with right-back Cristian Gamboa and midfielder Stuart Armstrong also in for injured Mikael Lustig and Nir Bitton with Tom Rogic rested.
Well boss Mark McGhee gave a debut to 18-year-old left-back Jack McMillan while 19-year-old midfielder Ross McLean made his first start in midfield.
Without being relentless, Celtic controlled the first-half with early efforts from Henderson and Armstrong.
In the 17th minute Well keeper Samson made a fine save from Dembele’s curling shot which was heading to the top corner and then from Erik Sviatchenko’s header from the resultant corner.
However, the former Killie number one had no chance moments later when James Forrest’s cross from the right was missed altogether by Dembele 12 yards out only for the in-coming Sinclair to guide the ball high into the net.
In the 38th minute Dembele ended a swift and incisive Hoops counter attack – a result of a sloppy McMillan pass in midfield – by striking the post with a shot from 14 yards.
And with a minute remaining of the first-half, Scotland left-back Tierney deserved a goal following his wonderful run which took him past Scott McDonald, Richard Tait and Ben Heneghan but his shot from 16 yards crashed off the bar.
Celtic’s grip on the game remained firm after the break.
In the 53rd minute Samson pulled of a fine double save, first from captain Scott Brown’s low deflected strike and then at the post from Dembele who was following up.
At the other end Motherwell striker Louis Moult had a couple of efforts, one with his head, one an attempted cross after good work by the impressive Chris Cadden, that should have had troubled the home side more.
The Parkhead side had several attempts on goal, the closest to another score coming in the 74th minute when Sampson had to make a great save from Sinclair’s drive after the Well defence had been cut open.
The slender lead might have led to inevitable Celtic nerves in the final stages but in the 87th minute the Well defence switched off and Samson tripped Dembele as he chased a Brown pass, with the French forward firing in from the spot for his 13th of the season for Celtic.
It was a perfunctory victory for the home side but they should expect more trouble from Borussia Monchengladbach when their Champions League campaign resumes.