Motherwell thumped by Celtic as early lead proves false dawn

Liam Donnelly gave Motherwell the lead but Celtic hit back (pic : Ian McFadzean)
Liam Donnelly gave Motherwell the lead but Celtic hit back (pic : Ian McFadzean)

Motherwell suffered a heavy first defeat of the season despite a Liam Donnelly volley giving the Steelmen a first half lead.

Donnelly gave the home side a lead that they more than deserved after a fine opening period. However, Kristoff Ajer responded instantly for Celtic and a Leigh Griffiths’ free kick would have the visitors in front before the break.

Further goals from James Forrest, Odsonne Eduoard and a Ryan Christie penalty added to the Steelmen’s misery before Donnelly grabbed one back late in the game.

Motherwell looked to take advantage of a Celtic defence that never looked settled in the first half.

The Steelmen had a lot of joy exploiting the flanks and Stephen Robinson spoke about the positives of this after the game.

Robinson said: “We were looking to play to our strengths and play our game. I think if you look at how we played in the first half we weren’t particularly worried about what Celtic were doing. It was all about us and how we pressed them.”

Motherwell were awarded for their attacking endeavours when Donnelly opened the scoring in the 13th minute. Polworth picked out Declan Gallagher with a fine diagonal pass, Gallagher headed the ball towards Donnelly who took the ball down on his chest and finished on the half volley.

Scott Bain may have been disappointed that he didn’t do better but it was a fine strike by Donnelly and no more than his team deserved at that point.

However, the home side’s lead lasted mere seconds as Ajer responded instantly for Celtic. A long, gut busting run and a one-two with Forrest played in Ajer all alone with Mark Gillepsie and it was a cool finish past the Motherwell ‘keeper to level the score.

Motherwell kept up the attacking style of play that had proved fruitful in the early stages of the game. Sherwin Seedorf was particularly causing issues for Boli Bolingoli.

However, as the half went on Celtic began to get a foothold in the game and the visitors would be ahead before the break. Gallagher was caught on the wrong side of Griffiths and a free kick was awarded that Griffiths took himself and fired the ball low into the corner of the net.

Motherwell started the second half brightly as they looked for an equaliser but their chances were limited. They then had a mountain to climb when Forrest would double Celtic’s lead in the 66th minute.

The home support were then left furious as they appealed for a handball by Bolingoli in the lead up to Celtic’s fourth goal. Play continued however and Eduoard supplied a perfect finish from the edge of the box.

Eduoard was instrumental in Celtic’s fifth goal as he was brought down in the box by Donnelly. Gillespie picked up a booking for his protests as he kicked a ball off the park, thrown on by the Celtic support, in the lead up to the goal. Christie made no mistake when the penalty was eventually taken.

Donnelly got his second of the game for what was little consultation for Motherwell late into added on time.

A disappointing day at the office that started so well for Motherwell, Robinson was left to rue a missed opportunity against the champions.

He said: “I thought we dominated the early stages of the game but when you defend like we did and make the mistakes we did against Celtic you are going to get punished.

“There are positives I can take from that and I thought there was a lot of good performances. For us now it’s about turning that into 90 minutes.”