O'Neill asks booing Celtic fans for patience

Celtic 1 Motherwell 1
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Celtic's habitual saviour Henrik Larsson came off the bench to maintain their unbeaten home record with a goal 20 minutes from time to earn a 1-1 draw against Motherwell yesterday.

Celtic's habitual saviour Henrik Larsson came off the bench to maintain their unbeaten home record with a goal 20 minutes from time to earn a 1-1 draw against Motherwell yesterday.

The point extended Celtic's Premier League lead over champions Rangers, who drew 1-1 with Hearts on Saturday, to 16 points, with both sides now having played 27 games.

Terry Butcher's talented youngsters, smarting from their recent defeat to Inverness, threatened to succeed where the likes of Barcelona, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Porto, Valencia, Lyon and Liverpool had failed when they took the lead through Derek Adams.

But Larsson rescued a depleted young Celtic side, who were missing the likes of Chris Sutton, Alan Thompson, Neil Lennon, Didier Agathe, Robert Douglas, Jackie McNamara and John Hartson, although he could not extend their 25-match winning run in the SPL.

Martin O'Neill, the Celtic manager, rested several regulars and a shadow home side fell behind to a 26th-minute goal from Derek Adams. But Celtic raised the pace after Larsson's arrival early in the second half and the Swedish striker headed them level 20 minutes from time from Ross Wallace's corner.

It was Celtic's first dropped points since their 0-0 draw at Dunfermline Athletic on the opening day of the season and halted their British record of successive league wins at 25.

O'Neill, who is accustomed to dissociating himself from managerial vacancies, was later forced into more denials as reporters attempted to ascertain whether he would be in the frame to succeed Sven Goran Eriksson as the England manager. "I wouldn't have a thought in my head about that," he said.

He was more vocal on the subject of his own over-expectant fans, who he believes have become too spoilt with success. The crowd at times have turned on players for passing the ball backwards and losing possession.

A smaller than usual Parkhead crowd booed at the final whistle - which could have been aimed at referee Tom Brown - but O'Neill is still calling for more patience.

"I'm not so sure whether they were booing the players," he said. "But we know that the crowd get very anxious and want the ball in the penalty box and don't want it out of there.

"They have to be a bit more patient, but after 75 games at home unbeaten they sometimes get a bit spoilt. The fans have been terrific but the players can make a few mistakes in the games, especially players who have been huge for the club over the last few months."

Goals: Adams (26) 0-1; Larsson (70) 1-1.

Celtic (4-4-2): Marshall; Kennedy, Balde, Varga, Smith; Petrov, Lambert, Pearson, Wallace (Agathe, 87); Beattie (Larsson, 57), Sylla. Substitutes not used: Douglas, McNamara, McManus.

Motherwell (4-4-2): Marshall; Quinn, Corrigan, Craigan, Hammell; Adams, Lasley, Fagan (Dair, 89), S McDonald; Burns, Clarkson (Wright, 70). Substitutes not used: Corr, Kinniburgh, Fitzpatrick.

Referee: T Brown.

Booking: Celtic: Petrov.

Man of the match: Pearson.

Attendance: 47,563.

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