Ryan Christie’s pitched cross for Scott Sinclair to open the scoring with a volley was a thing of beauty. It was 30 minutes into the game and Motherwell were withstanding everything Celtic could muster; it was going to take something special to open them up. Sinclair’s finish was accomplished.
Ewan Henderson, on his first start in senior football, created space on the right wing to send a ball onto the forehead of Odsonne Eduard for the French striker to score his first of the day. His second, which arrived on 88 minutes, but was just as crucial, was a thundering free kick from 26 yards, which clipped the underside of the bar on its way in.
You wait weeks for a great goal then you get four in one afternoon. James Forrest darted into the box before sliding the ball into the path of Oliver Burke, who finished in the top corner.
So good for Celtic, but the story of this game runs a little deeper. As though our central mid problems were not significant enough, Ryan Christie collapsed injured, prompting Kris Ajer to knock the ball out of play. But, also making his first start in senior football was Motherwell’s 18-year-old striker, James Scott.
Scott collected the subsequent uncontested throw-in, which convention dictated would be returned to Celtic, but the teenager ran into the empty Celtic half and fired a shot at Scott Bain. The Celtic keeper saved, but Scott had an accomplice in the form of 24-year-old Gboly Ariyibi, who scored with the rebound.
At this point, the game needed someone of character to make the right decision. Unfortunately, this proverbial football fell at the feet of Motherwell manager, Steve Robinson. He just “didn’t know what to do”. Motherwell accepted the advantage their break with acceptable standards provided them with, without recourse.
I get teenagers make worse mistakes than this, although we should be clear, he has played the game all his life and will be more familiar with this scenario than you or I. I could also understand that Robinson was caught like a rabbit in the disco lights, but then the Motherwell manager tried to throw Celtic fans under the bus in a clear case of whataboutery in his post-match interview, by accusing them of celebrating the departure of injured Carl McHugh. Robinson has already told the radio audience McHugh has been knocked unconscious for the fourth time in his career.
This context was unavailable to Celtic fans during the game. The context of Robinson’s comments were crystal clear. It was shoddy, calculated and therefore worse than James Scott’s earlier transgression.
If you like football of the blood and snotters variety, the remaining 39 minutes, plus 9 minutes added-time, were right up your street. The goal upset Celtic’s hold on the game and until Edouard’s late strike, Motherwell controlled the game. But, the champions had enough and finished the visitors off in distinguished fashion.