Wednesday 29 March 2017

Celtic suffer first home defeat of the season

Celtic 1 Motherwell 2

Motherwell's Connor Ripley hugs Celtic's Craig Gordon after the game
Motherwell's Connor Ripley hugs Celtic's Craig Gordon after the game

Celtic suffered their first home Ladbrokes Premiership defeat of the season as Motherwell came from behind to win 2-1 at Parkhead

A statue in honour of former captain and manager Billy McNeill was unveiled outside the stadium before the game and the impressive sculpture of a Hoops giant holding aloft the European Cup won in 1967 seemed to cast a shadow over Ronnie Deila's side, who were well off the pace despite taking the lead in the 49th minute with a deflected Nir Bitton shot.

Well striker Louis Moult levelled four minutes later before scoring from the spot in the 59th minute after Celtic stopper Jozo Simunovic tripped former Celt Scott McDonald.

It was the Steelmen's first win at Celtic Park since 2008 and left the league leaders one point ahead of Aberdeen albeit they have played a game less than the Dons.

In an insipid first-half, Parkhead striker Nadir Ciftci had the ball in the net in the 19th minute after Well keeper Conor Ripley spilled a long-distance effort from midfielder Bitton but the flag was up for offside.

The home side's finishing exasperated their fans with Kris Commons, Ciftci, James Forrest and Callum McGregor all missing the target with efforts before the break.

The start to the second half was much more energetic with Motherwell skipper Keith Lasley clearing a Dedryck Boyata header off the line.

The Fir Park side, however, were presented with a golden opportunity when Lionel Ainsworth, on for Liam Grimshaw for the start of the second-half, capitalised on a mistake by left-back Kieran Tierney to go one on one with Celtic keeper Craig Gordon but he lobbed the ball on to the roof of the net.

Moments later Well paid for the missed chance when Tom Rogic broke down the left and picked out the unmarked Bitton whose side-footed shot from inside the box was deflected by defender Stevie Hammell past Ripley.

Far from being deflated, Well fought back and when Marvin Johnson drove the ball across the Parkhead box from wide on the left Moult directed it high into the net from two yards out.

And when Simunovic tripped McDonald inside the Celtic box, Moult confidently sent Gordon the wrong way with his penalty to stun the Celtic support.

Anxiety cascaded down from the stands any time Motherwell ventured forward and a mistake by Boyata left Gordon having to make a save at point-blank range from McDonald with Moult sending the loose ball over the bar.

In the 76th minute former Celtic defender Stephen McManus had to be replaced by Louis Lang after appearing to suffer a head knock after clashing with Hoops substitute Carlton Cole, on second earlier for Rogic, but the visiting defence stood firm

The Lanarkshire side could have added to their lead when Ainsworth picked out Johnson but his shot was blocked by the foot of Gordon and after surviving four added minutes pressure they emerged with a deserved three points.

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