Smith pegs back Celtic
By Robin Slater
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Motherwell scored late on to earn a deserved point against Celtic at Fir Park.
Motherwell scored late on to earn a deserved point against Celtic at Fir Park after Darren Smith came off the bench to level 1-1 and frustrate Gordon Strachan.
Celtic's Derek Riordan opened the scoring with his first SPL goal for the club but Motherwell thoroughly deserved a point from a game they dominated throughout.
Motherwell started the first-half well taking the game to Celtic with Scott McDonald a constant threat down the left-hand channel.
Celtic tried to slow the game down with Thomas Gravesen and Neil Lennon sitting deep and holding the ball well to allow the likes of Shunsuke Nakamura to expose Motherwell at the back.
McDonald then created a great chance for David Clarkson but he totally missed the ball and injured Celtic's Lee Naylor with his follow through instead.
It was Celtic however who opened the scoring on 36 minutes after a strong shot by Nakamura was not held by Graeme Smith who parried the ball straight to the feet of Riordan who calmly slid the ball into the back of the net from a tight angle.
A fantastic double save from Artur Boruc followed minutes later after a nice turn and shot by Clarkson was followed by a superb reaction save from a volley by Richie Foran.
The second-half opened with a great chance for McDonald who latched onto a through ball by Clarkson but snapped at his shot and it was saved by Boruc.
Motherwell again pushed forward but Clarkson was again denied by Boruc who parried straight to Stephen Maguire who failed to control the ball which went safely back to the Celtic keeper.
Celtic made three changes in the second half with Maciej Zurawski making way for Craig Beattie, Kenny Miller for Aiden McGeady and Riordan for Stephen Pearson. Motherwell took Clarkson off after 74 minutes giving Calum Elliot a run, which proved a good decision.
Motherwell kept pushing forward and had a great chance on 78 minutes when a high ball by Foran forced a rare mistake by Boruc, who flapped at the ball, which was headed towards goal by Motherwell, only for Stephen McManus to clear off the line.
Gravesen nearly wrapped the game up nicely for Celtic in the dying minutes of the match but his fantastic shot hit the post and bounced back across the line to safety.
But it was Motherwell who deservedly clawed their way back into the match with a scrambled goal by substitute Smith, after a great run and cross by man of the match McDonald.