MOTHERWELL lost their unbeaten league record and top spot in the SPL as a rampant Celtic took both to conclude a bad week for the Fir Park club.
Having tasted their first domestic defeat in the Scottish Communities League Cup in midweek the second half of the Old Firm double header offered ’Well a chance at redemption.
However, a Gary Hooper strike and an Adam Cummins own goal gave the visitors the points and the day was one to forget for teenage defender Cummins as he also saw a red card.
Stuart McCall made two changes to the side who lost to Rangers with Simon Ramsden coming into midfield and Tom Hateley moving to right-back in place of Fraser Kerr, while Zaine Francis-Angol took over from Stevie Hammell in the other full-back position.
The home side actually started the better of the two sides and it looked like they would take the game to Celtic, but were unable to test Fraser Forster and the goalkeeper wouldn’t have a save to make for the entire 90 minutes with the champions thoroughly in control.
At the other end Darren Randolph seemed all that stood between defeat and humiliation and showed his qualities to deny Hooper with his foot after the striker was slipped in by James Forrest and then parried a low shot by Scott Brown.
’Well really had no answer for the pace and movement of Hooper, Forrest and particularly Kris Commons and if Scotland really do have eight or nine attacking midfielders better than the former Derby man as Scotland manager Craig Levein claimed then we may as well book out tickets for the World Cup in Brazil now.
Forrest volleyed onto the roof of the net and Shaun Hutchinson was booked was a cynical foul on the winger and Commons too found the roof of the net with a cheeky lob.
It wasn’t quite all one way traffic as Commons gave the ball away in his own half allowing Hateley to fire just over, but Francis-Angol earned his keep with a fabulous block to deny Hopper in the six yard box.
However, HOOPER wouldn’t stay off the scoresheet long and on 31 minutes after Hutchinson failed to cut out Commons’s flighted pass he swept the ball past Randolph.
Four minutes later it was 2-0 as CUMMINS steered Brown’s cross from the left into his own net.
On 55 minutes Cummins’s afternoon went from bad to worse as he bundled over Commons in the box and referee Iain Brines pointed to the spot before showing the centre-back a red card.
Brown stepped up but Randolph denied him and then continued to impress as Mikael Lustig and Emilio Izaguirre both joined in the attack from the full-back positions.
Three minutes from time and ’Well finally fashioned a half decent change as Hateley’s free kick found Hutchinson unmarked in the box, but the ball glanced off his head and out for a throw in.
The final whistle came as blessed relief, but with other results going their way, the defeat meant ’Well only slipped to second in the table a point behind Celtic.
Motherwell: Randolph, Law (Kerr 64), Hutchinson, Hateley, Humphrey (Daley 68), Higdon, Murphy (Ojamaa 79), Lasley, Ramsden, Francis-Angol, Cummins. Subs not used: Hollis, McHugh, Carswell, Hetherington.
Celtic: Forster, Izaguirre, Ambrose, Wilson, Brown (Samaras 68), Commons (Miku 74), Mulgrew, Lustig (Ledley 79), Forrest, Wanyama, Hooper. Subs not used: Zaluska, Watt, Kayal, McGeouch.
Referee: Iain Brines.