Match Report: All ends well for Celtic after Gary Hooper swoops in

Celtic 1 Motherwell 0

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The Independent Football

Gary Hooper's late strike gave Celtic victory over Motherwell to send the Hoops nine points clear at the top of the Scottish Premier League going into the winter break.

The Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster made a brilliant save from Tom Hateley's penalty, awarded for Kelvin Wilson's challenge on Jamie Murphy, just before Hooper converted a Georgios Samaras cross from close range with 11 minutes remaining.

The Celtic coach, Garry Parker, praised fellow Englishmen Forster and Hooper. He said: "It was obviously a penalty but it was a great save from Fraser and that is why he is in the England squad. He is a great keeper and he has proved that and Gary Hooper scores goals and his general play is good.

"They are good, very special players who are important to us."

Not for the first time this season, Celtic struggled to secure three points from a match that should have been over by the interval. The visiting goalkeeper Darren Randolph kept Celtic at bay with a series of saves, although there were some glaring misses, too.

However, the Motherwell manager, Stuart McCall, who is set to lose forward Murphy to Sheffield United this week, will wonder how different it might have been had Hateley scored from the spot.

Forster's 76th-minute penalty save energised Celtic and they were soon in the lead when Hooper played the ball to Samaras and ran into the box to collect the return pass and slip the ball under Randolph from six yards, setting up a nervy last few minutes.

Celtic Forster, Matthews, Ambrose (Rogne, 84), Wilson, Izaguirre, Commons (McGeouch, 82), Kayal (Watt, 72), Wanyama, Mulgrew, Samaras, Hooper. Substitutes not used Zaluska, Nouioui, McCourt, Chalmers.

Motherwell Randolph, Hateley, Kerr, Ramsden, Hammell, Humphrey, Law, Lasley, Francis-Angol (Daley, 86), Ojamaa (McHugh, 86), Murphy. Substitutes not used Hollis, Higdon, Carswell, Hetherington, Cummins.

Referee S McLean (Scotland).