Celtic vs Motherwell. Scottish Premiership.
Tom Rogic scored the only goal at Celtic Park; the win cut the gap on Scottish Premiership leaders Rangers back to four points; Celtic midfielder James Forrest was forced off with an injury; Celtic travel to Ross County on Wednesday night
Sunday 12 December 2021 20:34, UK
Tom Rogic's first-half strike was enough to give Celtic a 1-0 win over Motherwell and cut the gap on Scottish Premiership leaders Rangers back to four points.
Rogic converted David Turnbull's disguised free-kick at the end of the first half during which Motherwell hit the bar.
The home side were far more comfortable after the break as they restored a four-point deficit on Rangers but they suffered another injury to an attacking player when James Forrest trudged off with a muscle problem.
Celtic were without a recognised striker after midweek hamstring injuries to Albian Ajeti and Kyogo Furuhashi.
Turnbull started up front, supported by Rogic and Callum McGregor behind him.
Motherwell also had fitness issues in a key area with Bevis Mugabi their only natural centre-back. Left-back Jake Carroll lined up in the middle of defence.
The visitors started with three strikers and gave as good as they got in the first half, although Forrest had an excellent early chance when he stabbed wide after McGregor's return pass.
Rogic had a shot well blocked but Motherwell twice came close through Callum Slattery, who glanced a header wide before striking the bar from 22 yards.
Mikey Johnston replaced Forrest in the 18th minute as Motherwell continued to press. Kaiyne Woolery had a shot blocked before Tony Watt shot across the face of goal.
Motherwell's pressure continued and Joe Hart made an excellent stop from Sean Goss after a long throw.
Celtic improved around the half-hour mark. Johnston hit a couple of efforts wide, Liel Abada shot straight at Liam Kelly and Turnbull hit a deflected effort which the Motherwell goalkeeper pushed over after readjusting his body.
Motherwell were still committing men forward and they were caught out by a long ball but Turnbull made a mess of his attempt to chip Kelly with the outside of his boot.
The breakthrough came when Slattery was penalised for attempting to stand his ground as Rogic competed for a high ball just on the left side of the box. Turnbull rolled the free-kick across the 18-yard box and the Australia midfielder peeled off untracked and fired into the top corner.
Turnbull set up Rogic again seconds after the interval but Nathan McGinley slid in to deny the goalscorer.
Celtic were now in full control. Turnbull and Rogic threatened from the edge of the box and Kelly saved well from Johnston's header.
Motherwell looked like they had spent all their energy in the opening period, although Connor Shields headed wide from a decent chance seconds after coming on.
Johnston went off for fellow substitute Anthony Ralston before Rogic missed a couple of chances to ensure a few nervy moments for Postecoglou late on, although nothing of major significance.
Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou speaking to Sky Sports:
"We still missed a load of chances that should have made the game more comfortable for us, but we dug in and to the credit of the players they kept persisting and I'm pleased we got our rewards for it.
"It was a concern him (James Forrest) coming off, but it's just the run we're going through.
"Ajeti and Giakoumakis are nowhere near. Kyogo is a wait and see process, it's nothing serious but we've just got to be careful with him."
Motherwell manager Graham Alexander speaking to Sky Sports:
"It was a non free-kick, I thought it was two players body contact looking for the ball. It happened probably 50-60 times in the game, not all of them are free-kicks.
"But the one that hurt us and won the game for them I didn't think was a free-kick.
"We want to come to these big clubs and take the game to them and try and play how we want to play. I thought every single one of my players did that today."
Celtic are at Ross County at 7.45pm on Wednesday, while Motherwell host St Johnstone at 3pm on December 18.