Don Goodman's 49th-minute strike separated the sides at Fir Park last night but that will matter little to an angry Celtic suppport which is growing increasingly weary of being second best to Rangers. Their Old Firm rivals also tasted defeat yesterday, but, not for the first time, Celtic failed to capitalise on their rival's mishaps.
Motherwell had few inhibitions about facing Celtic, given that they went to Parkhead four weeks ago and inflicted a 1-0 defeat upon the Glasgow side, part of a run which has seen them take an impressive 16 points from their last 18.
Celtic, on the other hand, are as nervous as a man carrying explosives and that was evident after just 10 minutes when a blunder by Jackie McNamara, who played a short cross-field pass to Alan Stubbs, forced his fellow defender to foul Goodman, the former Wolves man, who had intercepted the ball.
Ged Brannan then compounded the punishment by striking a low right-foot free-kick through a gap in the wall and past the despairing dive of Jonathan Gould to put Motherwell in front.
However, Celtic managed to pull level in the 21st minute as incessant pressure paid off. Stilian Petrov's measured cross from the right was met by Eyal Berkovic, and the former West Ham midfielder's header squirmed past Steve Woods.
Five minutes later Celtic forged in front when Mark Viduka's run was halted by Shaun Teale, who clipped the striker's legs in the box. Viduka stepped up and coolly beat Woods with the penalty.
But Motherwell refused to lie down. Just seconds before half-time, Goodman fed Derek Townsley and he shredded Stubbs before drilling a low left-foot shot past Gould.
The equaliser was not just a relief for Motherwell, it was an inspiration, because four minutes after the restart they forged ahead again. Brannan's short free-kick picked out Goodman, who then waltzed around Stubbs and Vidar Riseth before crashing a shot past Gould.
The Slovakian, Lubomir Moravcik, wasted a wonderful chance to equalise in the 52nd minute, scooping the ball over the bar after Viduka had set him up. Amid mounting anger from Celtic's supporters, only the post prevented Lee McCulloch from adding a fourth for the home side.
Goals: Brannan (9) 1-0; Berkovic (20) 1-1; Viduka (26 pen) 1-2; Townsley (44) 2-2; Goodman (49) 3-2.
Motherwell (4-4-2): Woods; Doesburg, Teale, Kemble, McMillan; Twaddle (Nevin, 67,) Valakari, Brannan, Townsley (Nicholas, 80); McCulloch (Davies, 86), Goodman. Substitutes not used: Thomas, Brown (gk).
Celtic (4-5-1): Gould; McNamara, Stubbs, Tebily, Mahe; Riseth, Berkovic, Mjallby (Wieghorst, 70), Moravcik (Wright, 64), Petrov; Viduka. Substitutes not used: Burchill, Kerr (gk), Smith.
Referee: J McCluskey.
Bookings: Celtic: Stubbs.
Man of the match: Brannan.
Attendance: 10, 730.Reuse content