Larsson wins spot prize

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The Independent Football

Henrik Larsson shut out the memory of his Ibrox penalty miss to ensure Celtic maintained their seven-point Scottish Premier League lead over Rangers. The Celtic striker maintained his nerve just 13 days after his Old Firm error to secure a vital 2-1 win over Motherwell with just two minutes left of Saturday night's torrid encounter at Fir Park.

Larsson, who also missed a spot-kick at Livingston earlier in the season, said: "I scored from the spot for Sweden last Sunday in the World Cup, so maybe that helped.'' Motherwell furiously contested the award by referee John Rowbotham, after the substitute Shaun Maloney had been brought down by Eddie Forrest, but Larsson insisted Celtic's spirit to grind out a win was ominous.

"You never give up," he declared. "As long as there is time left, we have a chance and that's the way we have played for the last two seasons." However, manager Martin O'Neill, who rested Paul Lambert, Chris Sutton, Didier Agathe and Alan Thompson ahead Wednesday's Champions' League game at Porto, admitted that the European schedule was starting to have an affect.

"We looked tired from our exploits against Rosenborg last Wednesday, " said O'Neill. "The fact we never got our rhythm was because of that rather than the four new boys." O'Neill praised managerless Motherwell, who recovered from going behind to Lubomir Moravcik's stunning 30-yard free-kick after 14 minutes to equalise with a volley from the edge of the area by Greg Strong.

Rangers, who face Dynamo Moscow on Thursday in the Uefa Cup second round, unveiled a new-look strike force of Shota Arveladze, Claudio Caniggia and Tore Andre Flo and each scored in the 3-1 win over Kilmarnock. The Georgian striker, Arveladze, who was bought from Ajax in September for £3m, took his tally to three goals in two games. The Rangers manager, Dick Advocaat, declared: "Arveladze will be even better when he gets fit. You can see in the quality of the movement of the strikers that they enjoy playing with each other."

Arveldaze buried a cross from Caniggia to score and then returned the favour just before half-time with a pass which allowed the Argentinian to chip goalkeeper Gordon Marshall. Flo netted his 11th goal of the season with a low left-foot shot, before Antonio Calderon's curled 25-yard free-kick reply

Third-placed Livingston squandered let Aberdeen off the hook just four days after thrashing them 6-1 in a League Cup tie. A two-goal lead supplied by Barry Wilson's penalty and Steven Tosh's volley was cancelled out by goals from the teenager Darren Mackie.

Hibernian went down 3-1 at Dundee United, for whom Jim Hamilton scored twice.

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