It was back to league action for the hoops as they travelled to 8th place Motherwell, the hosts who had won their last two home games including an impressive 3-0 win over Aberdeen. December is always a hectic month for Celtic, the hoops have just sealed there 7th straight trophy in a row defeating Aberdeen in the league cup final on Sunday, they also defeated Rosenborg in Norway last Thursday, with the busy schedule ahead it was rumoured that Brendan Rodgers would rotate his team for evening, players such as James Forrest, Ryan Christie and Odsonne Edouard have played a lot of games lately and it was time for Celtic to use there squad depth. Rodgers did indeed rotate the squad, with rare starts for Christian Gamboa and Jonny ‘The Bully Slayer’ Hayes while Oli Ntcham, Scott Brown, Craig Gordon and Leigh Teacakes all returned for Celtic. Motherwell also benched a number of notable players, Ryan Bowman and Curtis Main started on the bench while Connor Salmon returned to the starting line up with his stunning hair cut of short back and bald. Celtic looked to keep up with the high flying The Rangers who managed to seal the title with 24 games to spare on the weekend with a stunning 2-1 win over Hearts.
The game started and after a minute in Craig Gordon worked Motherwells keeper with a fantastic 65 yard effort which wasn’t reaching the goal but it was a shot on target and they all count. It was a scrappy opening 10 minutes with Callum McGregor testing Motherwells goal keeper but In truth it was a scrappy start with Celtic holding the ball well inside their own half but creating little, Peter Hartley the Motherwell captain then went off injured, a big blow to Motherwell so early. It was also at this point BT pundit Stephen Craigan let us all into some professional insight by saying “I always thought that when your playing against Celtic you should make it uncomfortable for them”, amazing analysis from the ex Motherwell player and he then bettered it moments later when Motherwells Donnelly was down holding his calf, Craigan again letting us in on his knowledge by telling us “If he's holding his calf it looks like a muscle injury”, thank you for that Stephen iv been going through life thinking my calf was a bone. We didn’t have to wait long for the first Celtic goal when the ball found Kieran Tierney out left, KT ran forward with the ball and laid into the path of the on running Ryan Christie who took a brilliant first touch into the 18 yard box and finished brilliantly to make it 1-0 Celtic. Adam Livingstone then replaced Donnelly after the goal as Motherwell were 1 down and 2 substitutes down after only 13 minutes.
Christie opening the scoring for Celtic
Celtic began to dominate possession with Scott Brown moving into his normal deeper midfield role and dictating the play. Celtic had a goal disallowed when Leigh Griffiths corner found its way to the back post to Benkovic who was tussling with a Motherwell defender, Benkovic finished brilliantly however he was pulled back for following the player he was tussling with, at first viewing it looked a very harsh decision. Celtic continued to dominate and Leigh Griffiths nipped in and stole the ball of Motherwells full back before playing a 1-2 with Christie however his pull back to Oli Ntcham was just blocked but Celtic looked threatening every time they got forward. Motherwell began to get frustrated with the lack of time on the ball and threw in a few meaty tackles on Celtic players which saw the referee yellow card a number of Motherwell players, as we moved into the 35th minute it was all Celtic however there were very few chances being created as Motherwell looked to remain compact and difficult to break down.
Christie delighted with his goal
Just before the 40th minute Celtic were rewarded for there dominance when Ryan Christie was brought down in the area after some good play from McGregor and Tierney found Oli Ntcham who played a pretty poor outside of the right foot pass into Christie who was brought down, an argument could be made that it was a soft penalty however the referee made the decision to give it, Leigh Griffiths stepped up to take the penalty however it was saved well by Gillespie who then managed to punch the rebound away, it was a well struck penalty but no were near the corner and a good height for the keeper, Celtic then had another penalty appeal turned down moments later when Kieran Tierney fell in the box after what looked like a push by a Motherwell defender, not given this time by the referee but you could argue if the first was given then that should have been too. Leigh Griffthis had a chance from around 23 yards with a free kick to the mid-right of the goal however he hit the wall.
A frustrating evening for the teacake warrior as he saw his penalty saved and then hobbled off.
Half time came with the score being 1-0 Celtic however the hoops should really of been at least 2 or 3 ahead.
Scott Sinclair replaced Oli Ntcham as the second half started and it was Motherwell who had the first attempt on goal with Campbell testing Craig Gordon from 20 yards however the Celtic keeper held it well. Celtic almost added a second when some good play between McGregor, Tierney and Sinclair saw the ball come into the box with Sinclair and Hayes taking stabs at the ball inside the 6 yard box however it was cleared off the line and away. Motherwell began to grow into the game with Salmon putting Gordon under some pressure which forced the maestro to play a knee high powerful pass to Gamboa who mis controlled, Celtic were playing some poor stuff and Motherwell began to step up and try to put the hoops under some pressure without creating to many chances.
The hour mark approached and it was clear to see that Celtics level had dropped from the first half well below what is to be expected, Motherwell weren’t creating chances however that was more to do with them being so poor rather than Celtic defending well, the game was being played exactly how Motherwell would of liked, slow pace and poor quality of passes, Motherwells pitch it has to be said was in top nick which the commentators said about 30 times during the match. The Hour mark passed and Odsonne Edouard was warming up and Motherwell had a couple of corners which came to nothing however it amplified the fact that Celtic were still in a game here and that nothing was won.
Odsonne Edouard did indeed come on for Leigh Griffiths, Griffiths who hobbled off the pitch will be very frustrated to have missed the penalty however as always put in a good shift. The 70 minute mark came around and again very little had happened, Callum McGregor had a good chance when Jonny Hayes won the ball back and played the midfielder in down the inside right however he was tackled as he entered the box, Motherwell then picked up there third injury of the match and had to make another sub with Curtis Main coming on. Sinclair and Tierney combined well down the left around the 75th minute mark with the Celtic full back overlapping the Englishman into the box however Sinclairs pass was just a bit behind the Scotsman and Motherwell cleared it away, in reality Sinclair should of played it earlier or cut in for a go himself however it was much better from the Celts who were dominating possession but creating very very little.
With 10 minutes left Tom Rogic came on for Jonny Hayes who did well considering he has had little game time and was being played out of position, Celtic were crying out for that spark of magic and Tom Rogic is renowned for getting that goal out of nothing which would finish the game. However it was Motherwell who should of really scored when Connor Salmon broke through down the centre of the pitch beating Simunovic before shooting straight at Craig Gordon from around 18 yards out, he should of really done better with the chance.
The second goal came, however it was Motherwell who levelled the affair when a long goal kick wasn’t dealt with by Celtic the ball fell to Danny Johnson just inside the box and he finished brilliantly across Craig Gordon. The goal hadn’t been coming with Celtic dominating possession but the second half had been extremely poor from Celtic with the hoops going back to playing as they did earlier on in the season with the ball being played sideways for a full half, the goal did however wake Celtic up as they pushed to retake the lead late on but the winner didn’t come for either side as Celtic had to settle for a point.
Simunovic sliding in vain as Johnson levelled for Motherwell
Sort the hairline out lad
A frustrating night for the Bhoys as Sevco had also lost 1-0 against Aberdeen, a victory would of moved Celtic to the top of the table and 2 points clear of their undead rivals, instead we sit third with a game in hand to take us above Rangers and Kilmarnock. Did Rodgers make too many changes tonight? Possibly but after the first half performance Celtic should have been 2 or 3 goals to the good with the penalty miss and disallowed goal, credit to Motherwell in the second half while they created very little neither did Celtic and they took their half chance very well however it is 2 points dropped for the Hoops who face top of the table Kilmarnock on Saturday at Parkhead.
Celtic starting 11
RM-Jonny Hayes (Rogic 80)
LM-Oli Ntcham (Sinclair 45)
ST-Leigh Griffiths (Edouard 63)
My player ratings
Ryan Christie-8/10 (MOTM)
Tom Rogic- 10/10 for his hair do but no rating for performance as he came on to late…