Chris Porter did Celtic a huge favour here yesterday, putting a dent in Rangers' Scottish Premier League title hopes. Christian Dailly was the unexpected scorer of Rangers' goal but Porter snatched a point for Motherwell with a second-half equaliser.
Rangers have games to come against St Mirren and Aberdeen but Celtic's superior goal difference tilts the title race in their favour ahead of their final game, against Dundee United. Rangers, three points behind Celtic, have a game in hand.
The players ran out to Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife", the late Tommy Burns' favourite song, at the request of the Motherwell manager, Mark McGhee. A minute of applause was then observed in memory of the Celtic legend, who died of cancer on Thursday. Motherwell had already experienced the loss of their captain, Phil O'Donnell, this season, and "We did it, Phil" was the headline on the cover of yesterday's match programme, referring to their success in securing third place in the SPL and a Uefa Cup berth last week.
In contrast, Rangers still had plenty to play for. With a domestic treble still possible, Walter Smith made five changes from Wednesday's Uefa Cup final side, reworking his attacking options with Daniel Cousin and Nacho Novo up front. Charlie Adam, Lee McCulloch and Dailly were also brought back.
Rangers attacked from the first whistle but took 29 minutes to score. A long ball from Kirk Broadfoot was met by Dailly and he headed in after the goalkeepermade the wrong call to come off his line. Five minutes after half-time Motherwell levelled. David Clarkson's header rattled the post before the ball broke to Darren Smith, whose flick was turned in by Porter from close range.
Smith refused to blame the fixture backlog. "I don't think it was a factor," he said. "We put enough energy into the game to win. We played very well in the first half and could have been more than one up. A bit of anxiety crept into our play – we needed someone to slow things down." Smith's men play their game in hand at St Mirren tomorrow but must also make up a goal difference of seven. "We just have to concentrate on winning both games," Smith said. "There is still a bit of football to be played. Teams are not just going to turn up and allow Celtic and Rangers to win."Reuse content