DAVID TURNBULL produced one of the passes of the season with a searing long-range ball with all the accuracy of a heat-seeking missile that dropped right at the feet of Daizen Maeda.
The ball completely eliminated Stephen O’Donnell as it cleared the Motherwell defender’s head and the pacy Japanese raider was already on his way.
Maeda controlled the pass in an instant with the outside of his right foot, moved it forward and, with the home defence shredded, maintained his composure before whipping a low left-foot shot past the outrushing Liam Kelly.
PASS MASTER…David Turnbull (left) prepares to launch a ball into the tracks of Daizen Maeda for the second goal.
That magical moment emerged in the 84th minute – shortly after Turnbull and Maeda had been introduced to the action by Ange Postecoglou – and it proved to be a winning combination to give the champions their 13th league victory from 14 outings in an eventual 2-1 success.
Looking at his laserbeam pass, Turnbull said modestly: “It was not too bad.”
Celtic were leading through a first-half strike from Kyogo Furuhashi when the Scotland international got the nod to go on for a struggling Reo Hatate in the 69th minute.
Eveven minutes later, Maeda made an appearance as he replaced his countryman who had given every ounce of effort in a breathtakingly unselfish performance.
The pair combined when a Well throw-in appeared to glance off Sead Haksabanovic’s head as he came back onto the field after chasing the ball that went out for the shy.
The ball was divertly slightly and that set in motion the move that ensured the visitors would maintain their seven-point advantage at the top of the Premiership.
WALLOP…Daizen Maeda takes aim and fires in Celtic’s winner with the Well defence exposed.
SMILES BETTER…Daizen Maeda is hoisted high by team-mate Giorgos Giakoumakis after the winner.
Turnbull said: “I don’t really know what happened with the throw-in – and then the ball fell at my feet
“I saw Daizen run and I think there were a few others to the right, so it was just about picking the right pass.
“And I did that and, thankfully, Daizen stuck it away.
”It was a tough game. We created some chances, but not as many as we normally do. Sometimes you get days like that.
“But it’s about grinding out the result and the boys did that in the end and it’s a great three points.”
On Saturday, subs Kyogo and Liel Abada claimed the decisive goals in the late, late show against Dundee United and on this occasion it was the double switch of Turnbull and Maeda that helped produce the victory.
Looking at the manager’s rotation of players during the heat of battle, Turnbull, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “It’s great, it’s good for all the lads, competition is always good for everybody and it’s about performing when you get your chance.
“If you’re coming on in games or starting games, it’s about impacting on them and all the boys are doing that at the moment.
“It’s completely different to last year, there were games thick and fast and we didn’t have as many bodies.
“Since January and the summer, we’ve strengthened massively and it’s good for rotation as well for the boys, as if somebody’s tired, you know you can give them a rest and they’ll perform as well.
”Ross County is another huge game. We’ve go to the end of the block of games on a high and we’ve been kind of perfect domestically, so it’s about continuing that on Saturday.
“And, of course, hopefully we can get the three points we need.”