Sunday, November 10, 2019
Celtic Park, Glasgow
(Edouard 19, Tait 54 og)
CELTIC followed up Thursday’s Europa League heroics in Rome with a comprehensive 2-0 victory over Motherwell at Paradise. Ahead of the forthcoming international break, the win, secured by a first-half Odsonne Edouard strike and a second-half Richard Tait own goal, sees Neil Lennon’s men retain their place at the top of the Scottish Premiership on an afternoon where Scott Brown recorded his 550th appearance in the Hoops.
The Scottish champions started the match on the front foot, passing out from the back and controlling possession deep inside the visitors’ half. Jonny Hayes and Jeremie Frimpong posed an early threat from their respective flanks, but the first clear-cut chance came from Edouard through the middle when he flashed a shot across goal that was turned away by Motherwell keeper, Mark Gillespie.
On nine minutes, Kris Ajer stepped out from the back, played a neat one-two with James Forrest, and saw his resulting cut-back cleared on its way to the feet of Edouard. Three minutes later, McGregor split the Motherwell backline with a wonderfully-weighted pass for Elyounoussi in front of goal, but Declan Gallagher blocked the path of the Norwegian.
Six minutes after that, Celtic got the break they deserved. Collecting the ball just over the halfway line, Elyounoussi slipped the ball towards Forrest in the box, the pass was stabbed backwards towards the penalty spot, and Edouard pounced on the loose ball to fire home high to Gillespie’s left.
From there, Motherwell sat deep, as the Hoops pressed for a second. On 31 minutes, Frimpong and Forrest paired well on the right, before the latter’s aerial cross was cleared. Two minutes later, Ntcham split the opposition backline with a lovely through ball for Forrest but, again the visitors defended well.
On 35 minutes, Ntcham again found Forrest down the inside-right channel, before the winger cut the ball back for Edouard, whose curling effort was sent high of the mark. A few minutes later, another Forrest cutback was sent over the bar, this time by Elyounoussi.
With three minutes of the first period remaining, the visitors broke rank from the back when Devante Cole forced a strong hand from Fraser Forster, before being flagged for offside. At the other end, Hayes battered an effort down the throat of Gillespie, who could only parry from danger.
The Hoops entered the break one in front, and waited just nine minutes after the restart to double their lead. After beating his man on the right, Frimpong skipped inside to find Edouard in the final third. The Frenchman held up the ball, before slipping a deft through ball to the left for Hayes, whose resulting cross was bundled over the line by Motherwell’s Richard Tait.
For the next quarter of an hour, Motherwell stepped out in search of a goal, but Kris Ajer and Christopher Jullien dealt with a handful of half-chances with composure and levelheadedness.
On for Forrest, Ryan Christie carved Celtic’s next opportunity on 71 minutes when he forced a strong pair of hands from Gillespie at range. Moments later, Hayes flashed a ball across the face of goal for Ntcham, but the Frenchman couldn’t quite connect at full stretch.
With 13 minutes of normal time remaining, Edouard played in Ntcham in a move not too dissimilar to Thursday night’s last-gasp winner. However, Gillespie saved well with his feet. One minute after that, the Motherwell stopper was called into action once more to deny a bullet effort from Frimpong on the right.
With the visitors tiring, Celtic pressed for a third in the closing minutes of the game, but the margin remained at two. All told, a comfortable and routine three points for Neil Lennon and his players, ahead of next weekend’s international break.
CELTIC: Forster; Frimpong, Jullien, Ajer, Hayes; Brown, Ntcham, McGregor, Forrest (Christie 67), Elyounoussi (Morgan 86); Edouard
Subs not used: Gordon, Taylor, Bitton, Bauer, Rogic
MOTHERWELL: Gillespie, Tait (Hylton 67), Carroll, Grimshaw, Campbell, Long (Seedorf 67), Maguire, Polworth, Mugabi, Gallagher, Cole (Scott 80)
Subs not used: Carson, Sloth, Seedorf, Manzinga, Hylton, Semple