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  • Rampant Celts hit Motherwell for four

    Rampant Celts hit Motherwell for four

    By: Martin Dalziel on 21 Jan, 2015 21:44

  • SPFL Premiership
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Wednesday, January 21, 2015

    CELTIC...4
    (van Dijk 25, Griffiths 42, Lustig 75, 80,)

    MOTHERWELL...0

    CELTIC reclaimed top spot in the SPFL Premiership tonight (Wednesday) with a dominant 4-0 victory over Motherwell at Celtic Park.

    The Hoops pressed the Lanarkshire side from the first whistle and after spurning a string of early shots and chances, took the lead through Virgil van Dijk’s cushioned header from Anthony Stokes’ cross from the left.

    The Irishman then set up Celtic’s second just before half-time with a precise cross from the left which Leigh Griffiths powered home with a strong header in the box.

    Second-half substitute Mikael Lustig then scored a double, and almost got a hat-trick as the Hoops ran riot over the Lanarkshire side.

    Ronny Deila made just one change to the team which overcame Hamilton 2-0 last weekend with the return of Stokes, who started on the left of an attacking three behind Griffiths.

    Adam Matthews and Emilio Izaguirre were deployed high up the pitch on the flanks in a bid to take advantage of Motherwell’s ultra defensive set-up and the full-backs provided early crosses, with Matthews in particular proving to be a menace down the right, but the Hoops couldn’t work a goal-scoring chance.

    Celtic played neat football in the opening stages in front of Motherwell’s box and made a string of penetrating runs into the danger area but the tight Steelmen backline stood strong.

    Good one-touch football from the Hoops on the edge of the Motherwell area saw Celtic finally get a sight of goal when Griffiths cleverly set up Scott Brown with a back heel but the captain was tackled in the box and the chance passed.

    Stokes then curled a free-kick from the edge of the area past Twardzik’s post but was undeterred by the near miss and soon danced inside three Motherwell defenders in the box to set up Kris Commons, but the attacker’s shot crept over the bar.

    Celtic’s early pressure then paid off on 25 minutes when Virgil van Dijk rose well to header the Bhoys in front.

    A chipped ball into the box by Commons was cleared for a corner, which Stokes took but mis-hit and the set-piece was cleared back out to the Irishman. He readjusted his sights and curled in a dangerous cross to the back post where van Dijk was waiting to head the ball home.

    And it was Stokes who was at the heart of the play again as Celtic doubled their lead.

    His skill and endeavour down the left flank kept the ball in play at the touch-line before he found himself in possession again in good space near the corner flag where he curled in a pin-point, left-footed cross for Griffiths to power home with his head from six yards out.

    Motherwell changed their game-plan after the interval and replaced Lionel Ainsworth with Dominic Thomas, and they started the second half with more possession, but Thomas couldn’t find the target from inside the box after good play from Craig Reid down the right.

    Celtic also replaced Adam Matthews with Lustig, who made his first appearance since the 2-1 over Aberdeen in November, and the Swedish defender would go on to make a major impact on proceedings.

    Commons had a shot hit off the bar after good play by Brown and he was closely followed in hitting the woodwork by Johansen who powered a header off Twradzik’s post after a good cross from Izaguirre.

    The Norwegian then made a clever run into the box only to see his shot from Izaguirre’s low cross saved by Twardzik as the Hoops turned the screw.

    Izaguirre then hit the bar as well as shots rained down on Motherwell’s goal before Johansen was replaced by Stefan Scepovic after a clash of heads with Mark O’Brien, and James Forrest replaced Stokes.

    The pressure then finally paid off for Celtic when Lustig stole a yard of space in the box and calmly slotted home past Twardzik after Forrest picked up a through ball from Griffiths and played the Swede in.

    The full-back then showed no signs of rust despite his recent absence and scored a second with a magnificent diving header at the back post to meet Grifiths’ cross from the left.

    The Swede then almost got his hat-trick after winning the ball on the right and drawing a foul. Commons took the free-kick and played the ball in low to Lustig but his first-time shot rattled off Twardzik’s crossbar and back out.

    It was an impressive performance from Ronny Deila's side with four goals, a clean sheet, three points and a return to the top of the league table.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Matthews (Lustig 45), Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Commons, Johansen (Scepovic 69), Stokes (Forrest 61); Griffiths.
    Not used: Zaluska, Ambrose, McGregor, Guidetti

    Motherwell: Twardzik; Reid, Carswell, McManus, Watt, O’Brien, Ramsden, Ainsworth (Thomas 45), Law, Pearson, Sutton.
    Not used: Nielsen, Erwin, Kerr, Moore, , Cadden, Maclean

    Website Man of the Match: Mikael Lustig

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