Sunday, February 21, 1999 Published at 22:53 GMT
Celtic's magnificent seven
Motherwell v Celtic
Motherwell 1-7 Celtic
Four goals from Henrik Larsson helped Celtic to a resounding 7-1 victory over 10-man Motherwell at Fir Park on Sunday.
Larsson - Scottish football's most potent striker - took his tally past the 30-mark in a game the home supporters will want to forget.
The home side battled hard during the match to keep up with the champions.
But, as tiredness set in, the final few minutes proved too much, allowing the visitors free-reign to test Steve Woods' reflexes to the full.
The game's first chance came after a poor back pass from Johan Mjallby.
Lee McCulloch hit a swerving shot saved superbly by Jonathan Gould who threw himself at the ball to send it spinning over the crossbar.
It was a lively opening - but the match quickly turned sour when Spencer was red-carded on 13 minutes.
After a tussle with Jackie McNamara, Spencer swung his left arm across the back of the midfielder's head in front of the referee - who also booked McNamara for his part in the struggle.
It was a bad tempered opening with tackles flying in haphazardly from both sides.
And when Michel Doesburg challenged Stephane Mahe inside the Motherwell area, the referee had clearly had enough.
Larsson converted to put Celtic ahead but TV replays showed that it was a highly controversial decision.
With only 10 men and already 1-0 down, Motherwell looked badly shaken. But if the fans expected the home side to fold, Ged Brannan had other ideas.
Brannan strikes back
When Eddie May was brought down, Brannan hit a flying free-kick from 30 yards to secure the equaliser and stun the Celtic faithful. It was a fabulous strike, which curled around the white and green wall to leave Gould helpless.
The home side had fought their way back into the match, but minutes later Brannan turned from hero to villain when he gave away a free-kick just outside the Motherwell area.
Lubomar Moravcik's shot, which mimicked Brannan's earlier strike in terms of power and accuracy, clipped the inside of Woods' right hand post before hitting the back of the net.
Snow began to fall during the interval and in the second period Motherwell struggled to make many clear chances for their depleted team.
Larsson on song
But in the 65th minute Celtic went further ahead with Larsson's 29th goal of the season.
He met a long ball from Vidar Riseth and despite a cluster of four Motherwell defenders, ran through to the area to hit a hard low shot underneath Woods to bring the contest to an end.
Motherwell began to look tired in the final quarter and Celtic nearly secured a fourth with Larsson involved yet again.
Crossing from the right of the penalty area he found Harald Brattbakk in the clear. The Norwegian had the goal clearly in his sights but he rushed it, hammering the ball over the cross bar to the disbelief of the visiting crowd.
But the fourth always looked inevitable and after 75 minutes Craig Burley made his return to the Celtic first team with a neat finish.
Burley had been brought on for Moravcik, who was stretchered off with a possible hamstring injury.
McNamara fed a quick ball through to Burley, who hammered from six yards into the Motherwell net.
The final minutes all went Celtic's way with Larsson and Burley prompting Woods to make some fine saves.
Mark Burchill then replaced the hapless Brattbakk and added Celtic's fifth with his first touch of the match.
Mjallby thumped a low cross across the face of the goal and Burchill was ideally placed to side-foot it in.
The traffic was all one-way and Larsson was not finished yet.
He touched in a long ball from Tom Boyd to make it six for the visitors with only four minutes left, before heading in another to leave Motherwell simply waiting for the whistle.
Motherwell: Woods, Doesburg, McGowan, Teale, Craigen, May, Brannan, Spencer, Valakari, Coyle, McCulloch. Subs: Bannister, Ross, Ramsey, Nevin, Adams.
Celtic: Gould, Boyd, Riseth, Mjallby, Mahe, McNamara, Lambert, Moravcik, Blinker, Larsson, Brattbakk. Subs: Kerr, Burley, McKinlay, Healy, Burchill.
Referee: K Clark (Paisley)