Celtic 0 Motherwell 1: Lappin sucker punch hits Celtic's title bid
Sunday 06 April 2008
With friends like this, who needs enemies. Mark McGhee may have been close to Gordon Strachan for 30 years but that did not stop the Motherwell manager inflicting a fatal blow to his Celtic counterpart's ambitions of a third successive title. Simon Lappin's predatory first-half finish wrecked Celtic's home record and killed the champions' lingering hopes of catching Rangers, who now travel to Dundee United today in the knowledge that they have a six-point cushion and two games in hand.
The return of Neil Lennon to Celtic on Friday appeared to have an effect. Strachan may have recruited his former captain as a coach but clearly he valued Lennon's influence upon the players who needed a lift after the Old Firm defeat last weekend. Lennon spent the entire first half sat on the edge of the dug-out and must have been pleased at what he saw. Celtic shredded Motherwell with their movement and did everything but put the ball in the net.
They ought to have gone in front after seven minutes when Massimo Donati robbed Paul Quinn and advanced into the box. The Italian should then have picked out Scott McDonald but eschewed the striker for a shot that was beaten away by the goalkeeper, Graeme Smith.
Eleven minutes later, Celtic came even closer. Aiden McGeady shredded Quinn yet again and flighted a perfect cross for Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, only for the Dutch striker to thump his header against the bar.
Against that weight of pressure, Motherwell somehow conjured up the goal that broke the deadlock. Quinn's quick free-kick on the halfway line picked out Ross McCormack, who found Marc Fitzpatrick. His venomous shot was parried by Artur Boruc and Lappin volleyed in the rebound. The second half was scarcely any different in terms of the pattern of play, especially after Motherwell were reduced to 10 men in the 53rd minute. Bob Malcolm slid into Donati with a raised boot and then took a sly kick at the back of the prone midfielder.
McGeady came close with a raking shot and then Smith made a remarkable save from Andreas Hinkel's overhead kick in the 70th minute.
The final moments saw Boruc camped in Motherwell's box to join the quest for a goal. Georgios Samaras produced a great turn and his shot was netbound in stoppage time, but Smith broke Celtic hearts with the vital save.
* Ross County beat Berwick 4-0 to win the Scottish Second Division.
Latest in Sport
Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt: Examining the Impact of 'Taker's WWE WrestleMania return
Paul Scholes: Manchester City paid the price for not dealing with Barcelona's Sergio Busquets
Arsenal vs Monaco: Theo Walcott 'involved in spat' with fans after Champions League defeat
Paul Scholes: Jose Mourinho's attempt to influence football's decision-makers is not working. In fact, it may have backfired
Piers Morgan 'hurt' after Arsenal legend Bob Wilson questions his support for the Gunners and labels him a 'pompous individual'
- 1 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 2 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 3 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 4 'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
- 5 Madonna claims jokes about her age tantamount to racism: 'No one would dare to say a degrading remark about being black'
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East