THE day was Saturday and the date was December 3 2016 – exactly seven years ago – and it was the afternoon Celtic realised they were invincible.
Brendan Rodgers, of course, piloted the team to a domestic clean sweep in his debut season at the club and, incredibly, the team remained unbeaten throughout a memorable campaign.
At Fir Park, in the midst of a chilly setting, it looked as though the Irishman was about to sample domestic defeat for the first time since taking over from Ronny Deila in May that year.
At half-time following an unimpressive, error-strewn 45 minutes, the Hoops were trailing 2-0 to a double strike from Motherwell frontman Louis Moult.
FIR PARK HUDDLE…Celtic players prepare for the Motherwell match on December 3 2016 – with the supporting fans in for a treat.
Craig Gordon went into the encounter in the knowledge he had not conceded a league goal in 10 hours, but that record was dynamited in only three minutes when Kolo Toure misjudged a long ball down the centre from ex-Celt Stephen McManus and the pacy Moult raced in behind the Ivorian icon, a summer signing after being released by Liverpool, and lobbed the ball nonchalantly over the stranded keeper.
Just after the half-hour mark, he collected his second when he turned in a left-wing cross from Ross MacLean at the far post with the visitors’ defence shredded once again.
Rodgers changed the formation during the break to go with three at the back to push extra players into midfield and he got an instant reward when Callum McGregor, who had replaced a struggling Emilio Izaguirre in the first-half, pulled one back three minutes after the restart.
On-loan Manchester City winger Patrick Roberts headed in a dramatic equaliser after some good work from Stuart Armstrong in the 69th minute.
NUMBER ONE…a gleeful Callum McGregor celebrates his strike.
NUMBER TWO…Patrick Roberts shows his joy after heading in the equaliser with Tom Rogic about to join in.
Amazingly, within 60 seconds, Well were back in front with an effort from Lionel Ainsworth which left Gordon helpless.
Celtic were on thin ice in their 13th Premier League game of the season.
It was fast and furious and once again the Hoops summoned up the courage that typified their spirit and never-say-die outlook when Armstrong’s neat shot on the turn eluded Craig Samson for the equaliser.
NUMBER THREE…Stuart Armstrong celebrates the Hoops’ third goal with Well keeper Craig Samson grounded.
NUMBER FOUR…Tom Rogic yells with joy after his last-gasp winner. Patrick Roberts is equally happy.
With the clock ticking down, Tom Rogic stepped up to take centre stage as he waltzed in from the left wing, sized up the situation and then whipped in a low drive that hurtled low into the far corner of the net.
There was no way back for Mark McGhee’s battlers and referee Kevin Clancy blew for full-time following four minutes of stoppage time.
The champions ended the day eight points clear at the top of the division with three games in hand.
Once the smoke of battle had cleared, a breathless Rodgers said: “We were poor in the first half. We got off to an awful start.
“We changed the system at half-time to 3-4-3. We were absolutely brilliant second-half. To score the four goals, to win the game, it really shows the mentality of the team.
THAT’S MY BHOY…Brendan Rodgers congratulates points-clincher Tom Rogic.
THE EYES HAVE IT…Brendan Rodgers can’t disguise his feelings as he prepares to celebrate with Callum McGregor.
“Across the team, I have to give them huge credit because we had to put risk in the game. They took on the risk and they got the reward. I’m delighted for them.
“That was a great, great victory for us and give credit to Motherwell, as well, because I thought that they were set up very, very well.”
Celtic’s line-up that fateful day in North Lanarkshire was: Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Toure, Izaguirre (sub: McGregor 30); Bown, Armstrong, Rogic; Roberts (sub: Bitton 92), Dembele and Forrest (sub: Gamboa 94). Unused subs: De Vries, Boyata, Christie and Mackay-Steven.
FIR PARK FURIES…the Celtic players acknowledge the fans at the end of a breathtaking spectacle.
HOOP HOOP HOORAY…Callum McGregor and Scott Brown share the joy.
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from St Johnstone v Celtic this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.