Motherwell offered stiff resistance and kept in touch till the end but the game was lost 2-1 to Celtic under the Fir Park lights.
It was no surprise that the ‘Well players singled out for recognition by the sponsors were defenders. Stephen O’Donnell and Ricki Lamie and their colleagues were kept busy for long spells as Celtic sprayed the ball around in the attacking third.
There was almost an early boost for Motherwell when Kevin van Veen found himself with only Joe Hart in his way when he collected O’Donnell’s long ball. The striker rounded the goalie but his shot from a narrow angle struck the near post.
Van Veen failed to reappear after the break presumably an after effect from a heavy first half challenge. He joined Bevis Mugabi who had limped off after twenty minutes and later Stuart McKinstry completed the unhappy trio queuing up for treatment.
The loss of an early goal was not the opening of a big haul for the visitors. Matt O’Reilly snatched the ball from Callum Slattery on the right of Motherwell’s box and the low drive across the six yard area was converted by Kyogo despite the attentions of a couple of defenders.
Celtic dominated the rest of the half but Liam Kelly was rarely called into action. The well drilled defence worked hard to snuff out the many threats.
Motherwell made more of an impact in the second period. There seemed to be a more positive attitude going forward and there were spells of activity in front of the Cooper Stand. Celtic were quick on the break when Motherwell were over committed in attack and the assistant’s flag kept the score down.
Louis Moult got another thirty minutes in his legs and he was unlucky not to level the game after 77 minutes. He latched on to Matt Penney’s cross, headed down only to see the bounce take the ball above the bar. O’Donnell followed that up with a clear shot at goal but the defender’s effort was off target.
Celtic got their second when David Turnbull sent a long cross field ball to Maeda and with O’Donnell trailing the ball was driven beyond Kelly.
All seemed loss but the home crowd was given a lift when Sean Goss sent a ball over the defence. Ross Tierney was on hand to open his account for the season. It suggested that a storming few minutes might close the game but any opportunities came at the wrong end of the pitch.
One more game remains before the five week break. Motherwell travel to Perth on Saturday in desperate need of a positive result.
Motherwell 1 Celtic 2
Team: Kelly, O’Donnell, Mugabi (Solholm 20), Lamie, Penney, Goss, Slattery, McKinstry (Morris 53), Spittal (Tierney 60), Cornelius (Moult 60), Van Veen (Shields 45)
Wednesday 9 November 2022