Motherwell 1-1 Celtic: Brendan Rodgers' side denied late on
Kilmarnock move top with Rangers second and Hoops in third
By Blake Welton
Last Updated: 06/12/18 1:49pm
Danny Johnson's 88th-minute strike earned Motherwell a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Celtic at Fir Park on Wednesday.
However, it was the visitors controlled the contest throughout, deservedly taking the lead in the 13th minute through Ryan Christie who coolly slotted home after he was found by Kieran Tierney down the left.
But for all their dominance, the Hoops had to settle for the narrowest of leads at half-time - Filip Benkovic's exquisite finish was ruled out for a foul and Leigh Griffiths' penalty was excellently saved by Motherwell goalkeeper Mark Gillespie.
In a second-half lacking in quality, Celtic were made to pay for their overall wastefulness as Johnson sealed an unlikely point with a superb low finish from just inside the box in the 88th minute.
With eight games to play before the end of the month, Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers made seven changes to the side which lifted the Scottish League Cup at Hampden Park against Aberdeen on Sunday.
Motherwell: Gillespie (8), Tait (6), McHugh (6), Aldred (6), Hartley (NA), Campbell (6), Grimshaw (6), Sammon (6), Donnelly (NA), Johnson (7), Turnball (6)
Subs: Main (6), Rose (6), Livingstone (5)
Celtic: Gordon (6), Gamboa (7), Simunovic (6), Benkovic (6), Tierney (6), Brown (6), McGregor (6), Christie (7), Hayes (7), Ntcham (6), Griffiths (6)
Subs: Sinclair (5), Rogic (NA), Edouard (6)
Man of the match: Mark Gillespie
The visitors dominated throughout and it was little surprise when the in-form Christie opened the scoring.
With the hosts still reeling from a double-enforced substitution through injury, Tierney exploited a huge gap to supply the perfect pass for Christie to finish.
Motherwell should have found themselves further behind - Benkovic's brilliant finish from a corner was ruled out for a foul on Tom Aldred and Griffiths' penalty, after Christie was clumsily fouled in the box, was expertly saved by Gillespie.
Captain Scott Brown made his first start since being out injured in one of seven Celtic changes from their Scottish League Cup success while David Turnball started for Motherwell.
The second period saw a sloppy showing from Celtic, as arguably their cup final exploits began to take its toll, leaving Johnson to convert a great reverse pass from David Turnbull to stun the Hoops.
With Rangers' 1-0 defeat at home to Aberdeen, it meant that Kilmarnock's 2-0 win over Livingston was enough to move them to the top of the Scottish Premiership.
Stephen Robinson: "I asked for a reaction from Saturday and we were disciplined, we were brave and we stayed in the game.
"We went and pressed Celtic, forced some errors and deserved a point in the end.
"The early substitutions made it difficult for us to do anything - it limits what you can do in the game and your attacking options.
"But the boys on the pitch were absolutely terrific and our standards were set tonight - now we need a bit of consistency."
Brendan Rodgers: "If you don't take opportunities in the game, then you leave yourself vulnerable at the end. It was a disappointing goal to concede so it was definitely two points lost.
"It wasn't a very good performance. It was a game we didn't play very well in. We scored a good goal in the first half, had a chance we didn't take form a penalty and then had a goal ruled out from Filip Benkovic.
"Tonight we just made too many mistakes. It's always good for me as a manager to see a game like that so I can see how the players cope. We'll get back again and recover."
Man of the Match - Mark Gillespie
Although he couldn't do anything about Christie's opener, the Motherwell stopper was on-hand to brilliantly deny Griffiths from the penalty spot midway through the opening period.
Already 1-0 down with his side under the cosh, it was a big save at a big moment and crucial to his side hanging on in the game before snatching a late equaliser.
Celtic host new-leaders Kilmarnock on Saturday, December 8 at 3pm while Motherwell travel to Tynecastle to face Hearts on the same day at the same time.