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Celtic 1 Motherwell 0 match report: Gary Hooper"s 18th of the season extends Bhoys" lead

Celtic 1 Motherwell 0: Hooper's 18th of the season extends Bhoys' lead at the summit

PUBLISHED:

17:05 GMT, 2 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:17 GMT, 2 January 2013

Gary Hooper's late strike gave Celtic victory over Motherwell in their Clydesdale Bank Premier League encounter at Parkhead.

Hoops keeper Fraser Forster made a brilliant save from Tom Hateley's penalty, awarded for Kelvin Wilson's challenge on Jamie Murphy, just before the Englishman converted a Georgios Samaras cross from close range with 11 minutes remaining.

Not for the first time this season at home, though, the champions ended up struggling to get three points from a match that should have been over by the interval.

Well keeper Darren Randolph kept Celtic at bay with a series of saves although there were some glaring misses too before Hooper pounced to take Neil Lennon's side into the winter break nine points clear of Inverness at the top of the table.

It's that man again: Gary Hooper slots past Motherwell keeper Darren Randolph

It's that man again: Gary Hooper slots past Motherwell keeper Darren Randolph

Match facts

Celtic: Forster, Matthews, Ambrose (Rogne 84), Wilson, Izaguirre, Commons (McGeouch 82), Kayal (Watt 72), Wanyama, Mulgrew, Samaras, Hooper. Subs not used: Zaluska, Nouioui, McCourt, Chalmers.

Booked: Mulgrew, Kayal, Wanyama, Forster.

Goal: Hooper 79.

Motherwell: Randolph, Hateley, Kerr, Ramsden, Hammell, Humphrey, Law, Lasley, Francis-Angol (Daley 86), Ojamaa (McHugh 86), Murphy. Subs not used: Hollis, Higdon, Carswell, Hetherington, Cummins.

Booked: Ojamaa, Lasley.

Referee: Steven McLean.

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However, Motherwell manager Stuart
McCall, set to lose forward Murphy to Sheffield United this week, will
wonder how different it might have been had Hateley scored from the
spot.

Lennon made four changes and returned
to a back four after admitting three at the back did not work in the
1-0 defeat by Hibernian at Easter Road on Saturday.

In came Adam Matthews, Beram Kayal,
Kris Commons and Charlie Mulgrew with skipper Scott Brown, Mikael
Lustig, Lassad Nouioui and Thomas Rogne dropping out, the latter two on
the bench.

Motherwell showed two changes with
Fraser Kerr and Zaine Francis-Angol in for Shaun Hutchinson and Michael
Higdon, the big striker consigned to the bench where he watched the home
side's whirlwind start suggest a demolition job.

Samaras had the ball in the net from Commons' cross in the second minute but was flagged offside.
Commons then flashed a shot from the edge of the box just wide after
being set up by Hooper, who then turned and drove wide after taking a
Kayal pass with his back to goal.

In the seventh minute Randolph made a
fine save from Hooper's stab from close range after more good work on
the left from Samaras, before tipping stand-in skipper Mulgrew's curling
free-kick over the bar for a corner.

Hands on: Fraser Forster saves Tom Hateley's penalty

Hands on: Fraser Forster saves Tom Hateley's penalty

There was no let-up in the pressure
on the Motherwell goal and moments later Randolph flew to his left to
pluck a goal-bound Commons shot out of the air.

The Hoops support groaned once more
when Victor Wanyama then missed Mulgrew's corner altogether from eight
yards, allowing Well to clear their lines.

Murphy, skipper for the day, should
have put the visitors ahead following a break in the 20th minute when he
was played in by Keith Lasley but he lashed the ball over the bar.

Defender Efe Ambrose guided Mulgrew's whipped-in free-kick past the near post from six yards out.
Motherwell slowly grew in confidence as the first half wore on.

Mixed emotions: Neil Lennon applauds Hooper's winner

Mixed emotions: Neil Lennon applauds Hooper's winner

In the 37th minute Murphy tested
Forster with a drive from the edge of the box and moments later curled a
shot from 14 yards past the far post after working his way past Kayal
and into a good shooting position.

Samaras had a low drive from 20 yards saved by Randolph.

With seconds remaining Ambrose missed
the chance of the half when Randolph dropped Wanyama's header from a
Mulgrew corner, the Parkhead defender hooking the ball over the bar from
barely two yards.

Celtic had an unconvincing start to
the second period but with six minutes gone Randolph tipped a deflected
shot from Wanyama over the bar.

Celtic dropped the tempo which
allowed Well to breath slightly easier but Randolph was still seeing
plenty of the ball, making another decent save from Commons'
right-footed drive from 25 yards in the 67th minute.

Watching brief: Norwich boss Chris Hughton was running the rule over potential targets at Parkhead

Watching brief: Norwich boss Chris Hughton was running the rule over potential targets at Parkhead

Both sides were taking turns to
attack but Motherwell were handed a great chance to take the lead when
referee Steven McLean adjudged Wilson to have tripped Murphy in the box.

There was some concern as to whether
Hateley had the ball on the spot or not – and Forster was booked for
pointing this out – but when the Motherwell player blasted his shot to
his left the Celtic flew across to make a great save.

The incident seemed to energise
Celtic and they were soon in the lead when Hooper played the ball to
Samaras and ran into the box to collect the return pass and slip the
ball under Randolph from six yards.

There were some nervy moments before the final whistle as Motherwell went for broke but in the end Celtic deserved their win.

Motherwell 0 Celtic 2: Match report

Motherwell 0 Celtic 2: Hoops topple hosts at Fir Park to snatch top spot

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UPDATED:

16:37 GMT, 29 September 2012

Celtic leapfrogged Motherwell to the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League by dismantling the Steelmen in impressive style at Fir Park.

On-form striker Gary Hooper opened the scoring in the 31st minute with a low drive before Well defender Adam Cummins put Scott Brown's cross past Darren Randolph and into his own net four minutes later.

Cummins was sent off soon after the break by referee Iain Brines for a 'last man' challenge on Kris Commons but Brown saw his second penalty in a week saved before a sterling display by Randolph – along with some poor finishing – prevented the scoreline reflecting the Hoops' dominance.

Another one for me! In-form Gary Hooper opened the scoring for Celtic

Another one for me! In-form Gary Hooper opened the scoring for Celtic

Neil Lennon's men will travel to Russia tomorrow for their Champions League Group G game against Spartak Moscow on Tuesday buoyed by their performance in contrast to the beleaguered Lanarkshire side, who barely troubled Hoops keeper Fraser Forster, who had one of his easiest afternoons.

Stuart McCall's men, knocked out of the Scottish Communities League Cup third-round by Rangers at Ibrox in midweek, showed three changes with Jamie Murphy, Simon Ramsden and Zaine Francis-Angol in for Henrik Ojamaa, Fraser Kerr and Steven Hammell, the latter out of the squad altogether with an injury.

Brown, Forster, Mikael Lustig, Commons and Victor Wanyama all came back after missing the 4-1 Scottish Communities League Cup third-round win over Irn-Bru First Division side Raith Rovers on Tuesday.

Efe Ambrose, who performed so impressively in the middle of the park against Raith in his first start for Celtic, partnered Kelvin Wilson in the heart of the Hoops defence, with Charlie Mulgrew moving wide left in midfield.

Brought down: Adam Cummins (left) took down Celtic's Kris Commons to give Celtic a penalty

Brought down: Adam Cummins (left) took down Celtic's Kris Commons to give Celtic a penalty

Whoops: Scott Brown missed a penalty, but it did not make a difference on the result

Whoops: Scott Brown missed a penalty, but it did not make a difference on the result

Celtic were pushed back in the early stages but it was Randolph who had to make the first real save of the game in the ninth minute from Hooper's close-range shot, after the Parkhead striker had raced on to a well-timed pass from James Forrest.

The visitors, playing in a three o'clock kick-off away from home on a Saturday for the first time in seven years, appeared to turn on a switch and moments later Randolph did well to parry Brown's low drive before Wanyama failed to get the rebound on target.

Commons looked in the mood and he had three efforts on goal, all of which narrowly missed the target, but the third of which was a clever lob in the 22nd minute which almost caught out Randolph.

In the 27th minute, though, it was casual play by the former Nottingham Forest and Derby player which gave possession away to Tom Hateley but the Fir Park defender blazed his shot from distance high over the bar.

Moments later, Hooper looked favourite to beat Randolph to Wanyama's through ball which beat the Well defence, again caught square, but the Well keeper race from his line to clear.

As Celtic kept up the pressure it took a good blocking tackle by Francis-Angol to prevent the Englishman's close-range shot again testing the Steelmen's number one.

However, Hooper was not to be denied and just after the half-hour mark, Commons' perfectly-flighted pass evaded Hutchinson and the former Scunthorpe striker took the ball in his stride before confidently steering it past Randolph for his sixth goal in three games.

It went in Brown (left) celebrated after his pass was deflected in against Motherwell

It went in Brown (left) celebrated after his pass was deflected in against Motherwell

It went in Brown (left) celebrated after his pass was deflected in against Motherwell

Four minutes later Cummins, in his bid to cut out Brown's cross from the left, after the former Hibs player had been picked out by Emilio Izaguirre, knocked the ball into his own net from six yards.

Celtic started the second-half with unsurprising confidence, Forrest playing in Hooper whose driven cross from wide on the right was begging for a team mate to tap into the net.

In the 54th minute the home side's chances of an unlikely comeback disappeared when Cummins was shown a straight red for bundling Commons to the ground inside the box as the Celtic player shaped to go through on goal after racing on to a Wanyama pass.

Brown, who had a penalty saved by Robert Douglas in last week's win over Dundee, stepped up again and Randolph guessed right to parry the shot with Wanyama putting the rebound over the bar.

It was all rather irrelevant though.

Nightmare: As well as giving away the penalty, Cummins scored an own goal

Nightmare: As well as giving away the penalty, Cummins scored an own goal

Routine: Celtic ran out deserved winners in the end

Routine: Celtic ran out deserved winners in the end

Motherwell's 10 men were penned inside their own half, struggling to survive a Celtic siege and in the 65th minute Randolph had to make a great save from Brown, who had latched on to an Izaguirre cross.

Two minutes later, the Scotland midfielder was replaced by Georgios Samaras, who returned for the first time since injuring his elbow on international duty for Greece earlier in the month, before Wanyama headed over another good Izaguirre cross from the left.

Celtic were relentless. Randolph saved from Izaguirre, who decided to have a go himself, before making another block from Forrest, who had outstripped the bedraggled Well defence.

Randolph prevented further damage being inflicted by a rampant Parkhead side who will travel to Russia tomorrow with confidence.

Rangers 2 Motherwell 0: Match report

Rangers 2 Motherwell 0: McCulloch and Shiels show Gers can still mix it with the big boys

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UPDATED:

20:54 GMT, 26 September 2012

Rangers showed they can still compete with the top sides in the country by dumping in-form Motherwell out of the Scottish Communities League Cup.

The Light Blues faced top-flight opposition for the first time since being consigned to liquidation and voted into the Irn-Bru Third Division in the summer when the Clydesdale Bank Premier League leaders came calling in the third round tie.

Motherwell were branded favourites by their hosts ahead of this game but any hopes of claiming a first win at Ibrox since 1997 were dashed by goals from Lee McCulloch and Dean Shiels as Rangers booked their place in the quarter-finals.

Flying high: Rangers' Lee McCulloch celebrates scoring against Motherwell

Flying high: Rangers' Lee McCulloch celebrates scoring against Motherwell

Match facts:

Rangers: Alexander, Faure, Perry, Emilson Cribari, Wallace, Argyriou, McCulloch, Macleod, Aird (McKay 81), Sandaza (Hutton 24), Shiels (Crawford 75).

Subs Not Used: Gallacher, Stella.

Booked: McCulloch.

Goals: McCulloch 50, Shiels 56.

Motherwell: Randolph, Kerr, Hutchinson, Cummins, Hammell (Francis-Angol 65), Humphrey (Daley 72), Hateley (Murphy 64), Lasley, Law, Ojamaa, Higdon.

Subs Not Used: Hollis, Ramsden.

Booked: Hammell, Daley.

Attendance: 29,413

Referee: Calum Murray

Ally McCoist made two changes to his side from the weekend after Ian Black failed to recover from a hamstring injury and Barrie McKay was dropped to the bench.

Francisco Sandaza was drafted into the starting line-up and Fraser Aird made his first start after an impressive debut from the bench against Montrose.

Motherwell named an unchanged side after being held to a 3-3 draw by Aberdeen in their last outing.
One of the biggest criticisms levelled at Rangers this season was starting games too slowly but they were out of the traps quickly, as the stadium rocked.

Clearly, both players and fans were relishing the return of top-flight opposition to Govan and it was Rangers who almost drew first blood.

Aird looked dangerous down the left flank and delivered a teasing ball into the box for Sandaza but he failed to connect properly and produce a clean shot.

The first effort on target fell to Motherwell when Tom Hateley had a go from the edge of the area but goalkeeper Neil Alexander was able to claim comfortably.

Hateley then turned provider for Henrik Ojamaa but he was forced too wide before unleashing and Alexander was again up to the task and gathered with ease.

Showing they can still do it: Rangers Anestis Argyriou and Motherwell's Zan Francis-Angol battle for the ball

Showing they can still do it: Rangers Anestis Argyriou and Motherwell's Zan Francis-Angol battle for the ball

There was concern for both sides when Sandaza and Shaun Hutchison both required treatment following a sickening clash of heads.

Hutchison left the pitch with blood pouring from a head wound and returned several minutes later after receiving stitches but the match was over for a groggy-looking Sandaza who was taken down the tunnel on a stretcher.

Kyle Hutton was thrown into the action for the striker with 24 minutes gone, making his first appearance since the League Cup win over East Fife in early August.

Showing what it means: Rangers team captain and goalscorer Lee McCulloch celebrates as the final whistle

Showing what it means: Rangers team captain and goalscorer Lee McCulloch celebrates as the final whistle

Pain game: Motherwell's Nicky Law cuts a dejected figure at full-time

Pain game: Motherwell's Nicky Law cuts a dejected figure at full-time

Both sides looked capable of finding the back of the net and Rangers came close when Shiels' cut-back found McCulloch and he drove just over the crossbar from 10 yards.

At the other end, Nicky Law found himself one on one with Alexander but the Rangers goalkeeper raced off his line to clear the danger before the midfielder could unleash the shot.

The second half was just four minutes old when Rangers opened the scoring.

Aird's short corner was punted into the box by Shiels where McCulloch was waiting to take advantage of poor marking by Motherwell and nod home from six yards.

Rangers doubled their lead after 56 minutes when Anestis Argyriou squared into the path of Shiels in plenty of space to volley past the helpless Darren Randolph.

Bundle: Rangers' players celebrate as they jump on team mate Dean Shiels after he scored

Bundle: Rangers' players celebrate as they jump on team mate Dean Shiels after he scored

The Steelmen could have pulled a goal back with a free-kick just outside the box but a swerving effort from Hateley was tipped wide by a full-stretch Alexander.

The tie could have been all but over for Motherwell when Aird forced his way past two defenders into the box only for his low shot to be blocked by the legs of Randolph.

The visitors tried to haul themselves back into the match and Ojamaa went to ground under pressure from Ross Perry but there was no penalty from referee Calum Murray.

Goalscorer Shiels appeared to take a knock and was replaced by youngster Robbie Crawford, before fellow substitute McKay was denied late on by Randolph, as Rangers held on for the morale-boosting victory.

Steven Pienaar close to Everton return, says David Moyes

Everton close to signing 5m Pienaar back from Tottenham, Moyes reveals

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UPDATED:

16:09 GMT, 21 July 2012

Fantasy football 2012

David Moyes revealed he is 'much closer' to bringing Steven Pienaar to Everton on a permanent basis.

Chairman Bill Kenwright has reportedly been locked in talks with Tottenham over a 5million transfer deal for the South Africa playmaker, who spent the second half of last season on loan back at Goodison Park.

After a 1-1 draw with Motherwell in Stevie Hammell's testimonial at Fir Park, where Well midfielder Nicky Law levelled a first-half header from Shane Duffy, Goodison boss Moyes said: 'I think we are much closer to Pienaar and hopefully in time I will have something, but I don't quite have it yet.'

Heading back: Steven Pienaar looks set for a return to Everton

Heading back: Steven Pienaar looks set for a return to Everton

Moyes was pleased to see former Rangers man Steven Naismith come on in the second-half to make his debut.

Naismith received provisional international clearance last night from FIFA which allowed him to play while arbitration over his move from Rangers continues.

Moyes, however, was more concerned with the Scotland forward's knee injury.

He said 'It was pleasing to see Steven come on. I heard last night about six o'clock that he was cleared.

'We just have to make sure that his knee is right. He is coming on well. He is a month behind everyone else but hopefully he won't be too far away.'

On the game, Moyes said: 'I thought Motherwell did well. We are a bit behind and it showed at times but it was okay. I'm not madly excited about it but I'm not madly disappointed by it.'

Rangers 0 Motherwell 0: McCoist wraps up sorry season Ibrox with Steelmen draw

Rangers 0 Motherwell 0: Sorry Gers wrap up final home game with Steelmen draw

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UPDATED:

14:12 GMT, 5 May 2012

Rangers' final game at Ibrox this season ended in stalemate as they were held to a goalless draw by Motherwell in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

The club had dedicated the match to the fans – with the number 12 jersey to be retired from next season in honour of the support – but the Light Blues faithful left without the win they craved.

As well as taking a point from this clash, third-placed Motherwell also claim the Champions League spot which has been denied administration-hit Rangers next term.

Stalemate: Neither side could find a way through to seal the three points

Stalemate: Neither side could find a way through to seal the three points

MATCH FACTS

Rangers: McGregor, Bartley, Goian (Perry 30), Bocanegra, Whittaker, Edu, McCabe (Bedoya 66), Ness (Little 66), Wallace, Aluko, McCulloch.

Subs not used: Alexander, Broadfoot, Healy, Mitchell.

Booked: Ness

Motherwell: Randolph, Hateley, Hutchinson, Clancy, Hammell, Humphrey, Jennings, Lasley, Law, Ojamaa (McHugh 84), Murphy.

Subs not used: Hollis, Saunders, Craigan, Daley, Forbes, Carswell.

Booked: Hutchinson

Referee: William Collum (Scotland)

Rangers made one change from the side who thrashed Dundee United 5-0 midweek for the visit of Well.

Salim Kerkar missed out with an ankle
problem and was replaced by Lee McCulloch, who recovered from the knock
that restricted him to a late substitute appearance against United.

Motherwell also made a single change after beating Hearts, with Henrik Ojamaa replacing the injured Michael Higdon.

Rangers had the best of the chances
early on and Sone Aluko set up McCulloch for the shot inside the box in
the opening minutes but his effort was blocked by Tom Hateley.

Kyle Bartley then had a go from the
edge of the area but goalkeeper Darren Randolph was untroubled as the
shot dipped just over the crossbar.

The home side continued to push
forward in search of the opener and McCulloch's cutback was collected by
Aluko but his tame shot was gathered by Randolph.

Rangers were forced to make a change
after just half an hour when Dorin Goian limped off, with what looked
like a knee problem, and was replaced by Ross Perry.

Motherwell then carved out a couple of
half-chances and Ojamaa did well to round goalkeeper Allan McGregor but
opted to play the pass rather than have a shot at goal himself.

Heads up: rangers season is ending with a whimper on the field

Heads up: rangers season is ending with a whimper on the field

Heads up: rangers season is ending with a whimper on the field

With five goals to enjoy on Wednesday
night, Rangers fans grew restless as the home side failed to convert
their superior possession into a goal before the break.

Both teams looked livelier after the
restart and Steven Whittaker tested Randolph, before McGregor was called
into action to block a low shot from Keith Lasley.

Whittaker then attempted to turn provider with a cross for McCulloch but the big utility man nodded wide of target.

Motherwell had a decent chance when
Chris Humphrey burst into the box and tried to set up the shot for Jamie
Murphy in front of goal but Perry managed to clear the danger.

Credit due: McCoist salutes the Rangers fans as McCall encourages his players at Ibrox

Credit due: McCoist salutes the Rangers fans as McCall encourages his players at Ibrox

Credit due: McCoist salutes the Rangers fans as McCall encourages his players at Ibrox

At the other end, Randolph stood tall to block one on one from Lee Wallace.

Rangers made a double change when Andy
Little and Alejandro Bedoya were thrown into the action in place of
Jamie Ness and Rhys McCabe.

The Glasgow giants should have opened
the scoring when Aluko's corner was met by Carlos Bocanegra but Little
inadvertently blocked the header from finding the back of the net.

Maurice Edu pounced on the rebound but Randolph was up to the task again with another fine save.

Rangers claimed for a penalty when
Little went to ground in the box but the pleas were ignored by referee
Willie Collum as the match ended goalless.

Tribute: the Ibrox faithful say thanks to manager Ally McCoist

Tribute: the Ibrox faithful say thanks to manager Ally McCoist

Celtic 1 Motherwell 0: Hooper makes it 14 in a row as Hoops go 23 points clear

Celtic 1 Motherwell 0: Hooper makes it 14 in a row as Hoops go 23 points clear

By
Sportsmail Reporter

Last updated at 6:44 PM on 25th February 2012

Gary Hooper's second-half strike was enough to beat Motherwell and take Celtic 23 points clear of administration-hit Rangers at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

After a lacklustre first half, the former Scunthorpe striker latched on to a Georgios Samaras knock-down in the 59th minute and fired in from close range for his 20th goal of the season.

Celtic were not at their best, but it was a game they never looked like losing and Darren Randolph was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers.

On target: Gary Hooper fires Celtic ahead

On target: Gary Hooper fires Celtic ahead

MATCH FACTS

Celtic: Forster, Matthews, Rogne, Kelvin Wilson, Mulgrew, Forrest (Commons 88), Wanyama (Stokes 58), Ki, Ledley, Samaras, Hooper (Cha 76). Subs not used: Zaluska, Majstorovic, Brozek, Izaguirre.

Booked: Kelvin Wilson.

Scorer: Hooper 59.

Motherwell: Randolph, Clancy, Law, Hutchinson, Hammell, Hateley, Jennings, Lasley, Murphy (Humphrey 64), Ojamaa (Daley 79), Higdon. Subs not used: Bradley, Craigan, Forbes, Page, Carswell.

Booked: Hutchinson, Hateley, Hammell, Ojamaa.

Referee: Allan Crawford.

Attendance: 53,486.

The Hoops fans left after watching their side record their 14th straight win as they continue their quest for the treble, but with so little competition in the league there may be a few more days like this before the title is clinched.

But Celtic manager Neil Lennon could surely not care less about the manner in which his team wrest the championship back from Ibrox.

In trying to keep a big squad involved in the run-in to what he hopes will be a domestic treble, Lennon made five changes to the side which beat Dunfermline 2-0 in midweek.

In came defenders Adam Matthews and Thomas Rogne, midfielders Victor Wanyama, James Forrest and striker Samaras for Cha Du-ri, Emilio Izaguirre, Kris Commons and Anthony Stokes, who all dropped to the bench, with captain Scott Brown missing with a groin injury.

Motherwell were looking for a win that would have taken them level on points with Rangers.
Well skipper Keith Lasley returned from suspension at the expense of Omar Daley and they started confidently enough, showing little of the fear displayed by bottom side Dunfermline on their visit.

In the ninth minute Forrest played in Hooper, who turned into the box and drove a dangerous ball across goal which no one got on the end of, seconds before Well keeper Randolph had to rush from his line to thwart Samaras.

Denied: Samaras is thwarted

Denied: Samaras is thwarted

In the 15th minute, after the Well defence struggled to clear their lines, Celtic's stand-in skipper Charlie Mulgrew turned and fired the ball just wide of the post from 12 yards.

As the pressure on the Motherwell goal intensified momentarily, Randolph had to make a good save from Samaras, after the Greece striker had volleyed in a shot from the edge of the box.

Celtic had control of the game with the Lanarkshire side living dangerously if not defending desperately.

Forrest laid the ball off to Matthews on the right and from the Welshman's deep cross to the back post Samaras headed off the back of Tom Hateley, the Well defender appearing to know little about his saving block.

Three minutes from the break Celtic defender Kelvin Wilson headed a Ki Sung-yueng free-kick weakly at Randolph from eight yards and in the final seconds, as the home side finished with a flurry, Randolph made a good save from Ki's driven free-kick from wide on the left.

Hooper turned and fired wide with a 25-yard snap-shot in the first couple of minutes of the second-half, followed shortly by Samaras who missed the target from close range but the home side still looked off the pace.

Nice one, son: Lennon congratulates Hooper

Nice one, son: Lennon congratulates Hooper

Lennon did not wait too long until he made a change, bringing on Stokes for Wanyama in the 58th minute and seconds later Celtic were ahead.

Matthews' long throw-in from the right was chested down by Samaras to Hooper, who rifled the ball low past Randolph from close range with his predator's instinct.

The atmosphere changed with the goal and Celtic pressed the Motherwell defence for the next few minutes looking to tie up the points, with the Fir Park players forced in to some desperate defending at times.

With nothing to lose Motherwell began to throw bodies forward, although in the 70th minute striker Henrik Ojamaa was rightly booked for diving in the Celtic box.

By pushing forward the visitors left themselves open at the back and, after a swift Celtic break, Randolph had to dive to his right to save from Forrest's drive with the corner coming to nothing.

The final stages came to life as play swung from end to end and there were scares at both ends, but nothing more as Celtic rolled onward to their all but inevitable title win.