Paddy McCourt was the difference between the teams today as Celtic came from behind for the second time in three days to beat Motherwell at Celtic Park, securing second spot in the league. Craig Higdon opened the scoring for Motherwell after 11 minutes with a header from a corner kick but Anthony Stokes levelled, also from a corner, two minutes later. Substitute Gary Hooper scored the winner late on.
Despite a sprightly first minute Celtic were on the back foot for most of the opening period and it was no surprise Motherwell opened the scoring. Nor was the manner in which they lost the goal a surprise. Tom Hately crossed from a short corner which Celtic slept at, failing to mark-up. The defence also pushed out in instalments, leaving Craig Higdon free six yards from goal to head home.
Celtic immediately pushed forward and Georgios Samaras flicked a Kris Commons header onto Stokes at the back post, who volleyed into the net.
A Commons free kick was blocked by Samaras, whose shot was saved. Thomas Rogne headed a Commons’ corner on target but the ball was blocked on the line. On the half hour mark Higdon drew a good save from Fraser Forster.
Four minutes into the second half Stokes should have given Celtic the lead when he latched onto a long ball from Daniel Majstorovic which evaded the defence but Darren Randolph closed the space. On 54 minutes the lively Stokes cut-back for Commons who took one touch too many and was robbed. Fraser Forster was called into action again soon thereafter when he blocked a Nicky Law effort.
Paddy McCourt replaced Samaras with 15 minutes to go and transformed the game. On 79 minutes he collected the ball inside his own half, drifted through a nervous looking Motherwell midfield until he reached the edge of the D before feeding Stokes on the left. Stokes made space before rifling the ball into the six yard box for Gary Hooper to score the winner.
Tim Clancy was shown a straight red card late on for kicking Gary Hooper. If referee Charlie Richmond had taken an earlier opportunity to control Lasley or Jennings, Gary Hooper, James Forrest and Beram Kayal would perhaps have finished the game with fewer injuries.