Match ends, Celtic 1, Motherwell 0.
Celtic maintained a four-point gap behind Scottish Premiership leaders Rangers as Tom Rogic's strike earned a narrow home win over Motherwell.
The Australian steered in a well-crafted set-piece move after the hosts had to weather a first-half storm of pressure from Graham Alexander's men.
Celtic took control in the second half but were made to hang on during a nervy finale at Celtic Park.
Motherwell slip to fifth on goal difference.
While the win keeps Celtic's momentum going, Ange Postecoglou lost yet another player to injury with winger James Forrest going off in the first half.
The pre-match build-up centred around one key question - how would Postecoglou conquer Celtic's striking conundrum?
His attack have hardly been lacking goals - quite the opposite in truth - but with Kyogo Furuhashi, Jota, Albian Ajeti and Giorgos Giakoumakis out, it left the Celtic manager without a glaring alternative.
David Turnbull was the card Postecoglou would play - at first. The midfielder started as a false nine, but rotated heavily with Forrest, Liel Abada and Rogic in the role.
Forrest didn't remain part of that fluid foursome for long, with the winger succumbing to injury in the 18th minute.
It took the hosts a while to find their rhythm in this new formation and, in the first-half, Motherwell almost made them pay.
Callum Slattery rattled the bar with a sumptuous left-foot strike, while both Tony Watt and Kevin van Veen had penalty claims waved away by referee Euan Anderson.
Celtic dealt with this pressure, though, and delivered a crushing blow when Rogic swept home as Motherwell's defence failed to react to Turnbull's cute cut-back.
Well boss Alexander was far from pleased with the award of the free-kick and the timing just before the break had an impact on his team.
Celtic emerged from the tunnel with renewed vigour, on the hunt for a second which, somehow, would not come.
Rogic should have made it two when he was delicately threaded the ball by Turnbull, but was denied by a brilliant Liam Kelly stop.
In the next phase of play, Abada crashed a free header off the crossbar from six yards, although he was flagged offside. That trio continued to menace, with all three testing the Motherwell keeper throughout the second half, but the lead would remain at just one.
Man of the match - Tom Rogic
What did we learn?
Postecoglou's coy pre-match response regarding forwards hinted at Celtic's striker-less formation. At least he didn't claim it was a 4-6-0.
Add to that, a Motherwell side playing with confidence, with three wins from their last five, it was a seemingly perfect cocktail for a scare at Celtic Park.
Celtic have only conceded two at home in the league this season, though, and Alexander's men could not find a way to change the usual narrative.
The Steelmen simply ran out of steam, morale deflated at the timing of the goal, which came at the end of a half in which they had equalled their hosts.
What they said
Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou: "We certainly had opportunities to make it more comfortable. When you don't take those opportunities you always give the opposition a chance to hang in there.
"We still handled it fairly well. It was an important victory for us in the middle of a pretty congested schedule.
"It's another challenge for us but I've had challenges since I walked through the door. There's no point crying about it or moaning about it."
Motherwell boss Graham Alexander: "I thought it was a really cheap decision, the free-kick. Those challenges go on all over the pitch and it would be stop-start if you give a free-kick for every one of them.
"I'm really proud of my players. We gave it everything."
Celtic face a gruelling midweek trip to Dingwall on Wednesday to face Ross County (19:45 GMT) before the League Cup final on Sunday against Hibernian (15:00).
Meanwhile, Motherwell host St Johnstone next Saturday (15:00) in their final game before Christmas.
Player of the match
- Squad number18Player nameRogicAverage rating
- Squad number42Player nameMcGregorAverage rating
- Squad number20Player nameCarter-VickersAverage rating
- Squad number88Player nameJuranovicAverage rating
- Squad number15Player nameHartAverage rating
- Squad number14Player nameTurnbullAverage rating
- Squad number6Player nameBittonAverage rating
- Squad number4Player nameStarfeltAverage rating
- Squad number56Player nameRalstonAverage rating
- Squad number11Player nameAbadaAverage rating
- Squad number3Player nameTaylorAverage rating
- Squad number19Player nameJohnstonAverage rating
- Squad number49Player nameForrestAverage rating
- Squad number27Player nameGossAverage rating
- Squad number32Player nameWattAverage rating
- Squad number1Player nameKellyAverage rating
- Squad number2Player nameO'DonnellAverage rating
- Squad number5Player nameMugabiAverage rating
- Squad number19Player nameMcGinleyAverage rating
- Squad number3Player nameCarrollAverage rating
- Squad number16Player nameSlatteryAverage rating
- Squad number9Player namevan VeenAverage rating
- Squad number7Player nameWooleryAverage rating
- Squad number6Player nameMaguireAverage rating
- Squad number29Player nameShieldsAverage rating
- Squad number22Player nameDonnellyAverage rating
- Squad number28Player nameRobertsAverage rating
- 49ForrestSubstituted forJohnstonat 18'minutesSubstituted forRalstonat 78'minutes
- 16SlatteryBooked at 45minsSubstituted forDonnellyat 73'minutes
- 7WoolerySubstituted forRobertsat 87'minutes
- 9van VeenBooked at 20minsSubstituted forShieldsat 73'minutes
- Euan Anderson
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Celtic 1, Motherwell 0.
Anthony Ralston (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Tony Watt (Motherwell).
Attempt missed. Liel Abada (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by David Turnbull.
Offside, Motherwell. Jordan Roberts tries a through ball, but Tony Watt is caught offside.
Substitution, Motherwell. Jordan Roberts replaces Kaiyne Woolery.
Offside, Motherwell. Barry Maguire tries a through ball, but Tony Watt is caught offside.
Foul by Nir Bitton (Celtic).
Stephen O'Donnell (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Carl Starfelt (Celtic).
Tony Watt (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Connor Shields (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Tony Watt.
Foul by Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic).
Connor Shields (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Tomas Rogic (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Josip Juranovic.
Substitution, Celtic. Anthony Ralston replaces Michael Johnston.
Attempt missed. Tomas Rogic (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Michael Johnston.
Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Carl Starfelt.
Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Carl Starfelt.
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