Scottish Premiership
MotherwellMotherwell0CelticCeltic1

Motherwell 0-1 Celtic

By Jonathan SutherlandBBC Scotland at Fir Park
Nadir Ciftci scores for Celtic against Motherwell
Ciftci netted his second goal for Celtic

Celtic returned to the top of the Scottish Premiership with a narrow victory over Motherwell.

Nadir Ciftci scored early for Celtic but the champions failed to add the goals their dominance deserved.

Motherwell made it more of a contest after the break, although Celtic had two big penalty appeals waved away.

Despite failing to score more goals Celtic deserved victory, as Mark McGhee began his second spell as Motherwell boss with a defeat.

The defending champions go two points clear of Aberdeen, who lost to Ross County on Friday evening and Celtic resume their Europa League campaign in manager Ronny Deila's native Norway against Molde on Thursday.

New manager, new line-up

Motherwell manager Mark McGhee
McGhee has returned to Fir Park after ending his first spell in charge in 2009

McGhee's starting line-up was certainly a statement with regulars Keith Lasley, Lionel Ainsworth and Scott McDonald all on the bench.

As for Celtic, Ciftci was handed a chance to shine with Leigh Griffiths on the bench. Captain and midfielder Scott Brown also made the starting XI after recovering from a training ground knock.

The hosts aspired to a 4-3-3 formation, but as Celtic dominated play the formation in reality was more 4-5-1.

It did not long for Celtic to make the breakthrough. Stuart Armstrong and Emilio Izaguirre combined well on the left to set up Kris Commons, and though his shot was parried by Connor Ripley, Ciftci fired in the rebound.

Motherwell struggled to get into the game but did have a spot-kick claim dismissed when Wes Fletcher went down in the box.

Celtic dominance but no rout

Kris Commons has a chance for Celtic against Motherwell
Commons was prominent in a lot of Celtic's play

Soon after, Commons had a pop from 30 yards, his shot swerving in the air and Ripley tipping the effort just over the bar.

The mercurial Commons would come even closer with a free-kick 20 yards out as his shot came back off the crossbar with Ripley beaten.

Such was the Celtic dominance that one of their centre backs - Tyler Blackett - was able to cross the ball into the box for his central defensive partner Dedryck Boyata - who had joined the attack - but his free header was just wide.

At the start of the second half there were appeals for a Celtic penalty when Brown went down in the box under challenge from Kieran Kennedy, but referee Alan Muir decided the Motherwell defender had made contact with the ball.

At the other end, Efe Ambrose, culpable for the loss of some important goals in recent weeks, almost had another moment to forget as his sliced clearance from a cross went perilously close to finding his own net.

Commons came close again to scoring but fired just wide.

Celtic should have had a spot-kick when the ball struck the arm of Kennedy but there was no whistle from the officials.

Motherwell were offering very little as an attacking threat and yet they almost equalised when Kennedy fired just wide.

They had a big chance following a free-kick when the ball fell to Kennedy in the box, but he failed to control and it ran harmlessly behind for a goal-kick.

Ciftci's replacement Griffiths then stung the palms of Ripley after a turn and shot from the edge of the box. Commons also had a late chance after working his way into the box but was unable to get a clean shot away.

Line-ups

Motherwell

Formation 5-3-2

  • 1Ripley
  • 18Law
  • 5Laing
  • 6McManus
  • 16Kennedy
  • 15Chalmers
  • 4Grimshaw
  • 8Pearson
  • 11JohnsonSubstituted forThomasat 72'minutes
  • 20MoultSubstituted forAinsworthat 53'minutes
  • 9FletcherSubstituted forMcDonaldat 66'minutesBooked at 78mins

Substitutes

  • 7Ainsworth
  • 13Samson
  • 14Lasley
  • 17Robinson
  • 21Leitch
  • 23Thomas
  • 77McDonald

Celtic

Formation 4-4-1-1

  • 1Gordon
  • 4Ambrose
  • 20Boyata
  • 2Blackett
  • 3Izaguirre
  • 18Rogic
  • 8Brown
  • 6BittonSubstituted forMcGregorat 76'minutes
  • 14ArmstrongSubstituted forMackay-Stevenat 67'minutes
  • 15Commons
  • 7CiftciSubstituted forGriffithsat 60'minutes

Substitutes

  • 9Griffiths
  • 10Stokes
  • 16Mackay-Steven
  • 23Lustig
  • 26Bailly
  • 42McGregor
  • 63Tierney
Referee:
Alan Muir
Attendance:
8,888

Match Stats

Home TeamMotherwellAway TeamCeltic
Possession
Home37%
Away63%
Shots
Home2
Away18
Shots on Target
Home1
Away4
Corners
Home2
Away8
Fouls
Home8
Away5

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Motherwell 0, Celtic 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Motherwell 0, Celtic 1.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Callum McGregor (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

  4. Post update

    Attempt missed. Kris Commons (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.

  5. Post update

    Kris Commons (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Stephen McManus (Motherwell).

  7. Post update

    Kris Commons (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Stephen McManus (Motherwell).

  9. Post update

    Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic).

  11. Post update

    Attempt saved. Kris Commons (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  12. Post update

    Attempt saved. Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Scott Brown (Celtic).

  14. Post update

    Joe Chalmers (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Booking

    Scott McDonald (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  16. Post update

    Efe Ambrose (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Scott McDonald (Motherwell).

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Callum McGregor replaces Nir Bitton because of an injury.

  19. Post update

    Delay in match Nir Bitton (Celtic) because of an injury.

  20. Substitution

    Substitution, Motherwell. Dom Thomas replaces Marvin Johnson.

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