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  • Celts re-establish top of table lead with emphatic Motherwell win

    Celts re-establish top of table lead with emphatic Motherwell win

    By: Joe Donnelly on 24 Feb, 2019 17:12

  • Scottish Premiership
    Sunday, February 24, 2019
    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    CELTIC…4
    (Sinclair 31, Edouard 37, 88, Burke 90)

    MOTHERWELL…1
    (Ariyibi 52)

    CELTIC extended their perfect domestic start to 2019 with a 4-1 win against Motherwell at Paradise today (Sunday), in a game that not only saw Kieran Tierney return from injury, but also assume captaincy of Brendan Rodgers’ side.

    First-half goals from Scott Sinclair and Odsonne Edouard put the Hoops two in front at the break, before a controversial Motherwell goal upset the home side’s momentum. A wonderful second goal from the 21-year-old Frenchman and Olly Burke however put the game out of sight, as the Scottish champions re-established an eight-point lead at the summit of the Scottish Premiership.

    Celtic showed little sign of a European hangover as they pressed the visitors deep into their half from outset with typical speed and aggressiveness. Nir Bitton, Scott Sinclair and Kieran Tierney combined well on the inside-left channel early on, while Ewan Henderson and Jeremy Toljan looked a threat on the opposite flank.

    Much of the opening quarter of an hour unfolded in the centre of the pitch, as both teams wrestled for possession, and half-chances fell to both Edouard and Henderson inside the Motherwell penalty area. The Steelmen cleared on both occasions, and at the other end, Kristoffer Ajer dealt with a handful of counter-attacks with a coolness reflective of his current form.

    On 19 minutes, some neat combination play between Edouard and Henderson saw the latter turn his man inside the box, before having his shot blocked for a corner. Minutes later, captain Tierney fed in Ryan Christie on the edge of the penalty area, but his ensuing strike was again cleared.

    The Hoops then enjoyed a spell of concerted possession inside their opponent’s final third, and broke the deadlock just after the half-hour mark. A burst of pace down the line from Tierney saw the 21-year-old full-back again find Christie inside, whose first-time out-swinging cross found Sinclair in front of goal. The Englishman duly bagged his 60th Celtic goal with a neat side-footed volley from six yards, much to the delight of the Paradise faithful.   

    Six minutes later, a wonderful piece of play down the right wing doubled the Scottish champions’ lead. Dedryck Boyata picked up a stray ball just inside the Celtic half, before playing a beautifully-weighted pass to Henderson on the right wing. The 18-year-old midfielder skipped past his man, and floated a perfect cross onto the head of the oncoming Edouard who rifled into the net.

    James Forrest was unlucky not to put the Hoops three in front before the break, but was denied by a fine save from Motherwell goalkeeper Mark Gillespie.

    Five minutes after the interval, Motherwell pulled one back in controversial circumstances. On 51 minutes, Christie sustained an injury and teammate Ajer passed the ball out of play to allow a substitute to be made.

    Motherwell did not however return the ball, and, with many Celtic players out of position, James Scott ran towards the byline, forced a good save from Scott Bain, and Globy Ariyibi scored from the rebound.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side responded to the act of poor sportsmanship with familiar vigour, grit and determination, and both Forrest and Henderson were unfortunate not to extend their side’s lead. On 59 minutes, both midfielders combined well, before the 18-year-old capped off the move with a curling right foot effort over the bar.

    Five minutes later, a strong hand from Gillespie prevented Henderson from converting a free-kick left of the visitors’ penalty area, whereas Ajer – playing further forward following Hendry’s introduction at centre-half – was unlucky not to find Forrest with a through ball in the final third.

    Motherwell, buoyed by their goal, carved a few half-chances of their own that were matched in turn by resolute and disciplined defending by both Ajer and Boyata. At 78 minutes, Motherwell substitute Carl McHugh was stretchered off, which would in turn add nine minutes of stoppage at the end of the match.  

    As the half drew to a close, Brendan Rodgers’ side enjoyed the majority of possession, and might have extended their lead with four minutes of normal time remaining. Substitute Burke showed great strength to hold up the ball for the overlapping Edouard on the left touchline, who in turn passed inside to Sinclair. The 29-year-old drove at the Motherwell defence, and fired a shot to Gillespie’s right that was handled comfortably by the goalkeeper.

    One minute later, Edouard was pulled to the ground following a blistering burst through the centre of the Motherwell defence, before the Frenchman rifled the set-piece into the net from 25-yards with the help of the crossbar.

    Paradise erupted, and three minutes after that, Forrest capped off a formidable run from the inside-right channel with a deft square-ball to Burke, whose cultured right-foot finish put the game out of sight.

    Celtic played out the clock comfortably to extend their immaculate start to 2019 and their perfect home record this campaign.

    CELTIC: Bain; Toljan, Boyata, Ajer, Tierney (Hayes 69); Bitton (Burke 84), Henderson, Christie (Hendry 51); Forrest, Sinclair; Edouard.
    Subs not used: Gordon, Hayes, Lustig, Weah, Johnston

    MOTHERWELL: Gillespie; Grimshaw, Aldred (McHugh 23; Donnelly 78), Dunne, Tait; Campbell, Rodriguez-Gorrin, Turnbull; Hastie, Scott (Sammon 65), Ariyibi
    Subs not used: Ferguson, Frear, Johnson

    Website Man of the Match: Ewan Henderson

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