Douglas saves help Celtic maintain lead

Motherwell 0 Celtic 2
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If Robert Douglas saw himself as going into the shop window yesterday, he may just have added a few pounds to his value. The Scotland goalkeeper became Celtic's hero at Fir Park with a penalty save that kept them on course for the title, just hours after it had been revealed he wants to leave.

Douglas is scanning around the market in England for a new club in a bid to protect his international place under Berti Vogts, but his performance in quelling Motherwell and saving Derek Adams' penalty, which threatened to bring the contest level at 1-1, could encourage Martin O'Neill to hang on to him.

The Celtic manager dropped Douglas at the expense of Magnus Hedman for the Champions League campaign, but the Swede found himself jettisoned a week ago after his own series of blunders helped kill off Celtic's interest in that competition.

Now, Douglas is forcing O'Neill to revise his opinion. "I will not let anyone go in January unless I have a replacement," said the manager. "Rab wants to be number one and that performance will have helped him enormously. He is in pole position at the moment."

Celtic were desperate not to drop any points as Rangers did here recently, and their nerves were soothed when John Hartson fired them in front after just three minutes, after Chris Sutton's cross found him lurking at the back post.

However, Motherwell's pressure almost paid off when Adams hit the post with a free-kick and then got the chance to beat Douglas from 12 yards when Johan Mjallby was harshly judged to have brought down David Clarkson. "It was not a penalty," the Motherwell manager, Terry Butcher, admitted - but Douglas kept out his kick.

Celtic had to soak up even more pressure in the second half before Alan Thompson's 71st-minute free-kick beat Gordon Marshall to seal victory.

Motherwell (4-4-2): Marshall; Quinn, Craigan, Corrigan, Hammell; Lasley, Leitch (Dair, 76), Adams, Pearson; Burns, Clarkson. Substitutes not used: Corr, Fitzpatrick, Fagan, Wright.

Celtic (3-5-2): Douglas; Varga, Balde, Mjallby; Petrov, Miller, Lennon, Sutton, Thompson; Larsson (J Smith, 40), Hartson. Substitutes not used: Marshall, Wallace, Gray, Maloney.

Referee: J Underhill.

Booked: Motherwell: Lasley, Craigan. Celtic: Larsson, Balde, Miller.

Attendance: 10,515.