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Sunday, 28 November, 1999, 20:45 GMT
Celtic blow big chance


Motherwell 3-2 Celtic

Celtic missed a glorious chance to make up ground on Scottish Premiership leaders Rangers, as they crashed to a surprise defeat at Motherwell on Sunday evening.

Victory at Fir Park would have taken John Barnes' team to within one point of their arch rivals, after Rangers had themselves slumped to a home defeat at the hands of Dundee earlier in the day.

Match facts
9: Brannan fires Motherwell into the lead
20: A Berkovic goal levels the scores
26: Viduka's penalty puts Celtic in front
44: Townsley equalises just before the break
49: Goodman wins the match for Motherwell
But Celtic once again failed to capitalise on their neighbours' profligacy, with Rangers now firm favourites to defend their title.

The manner of the defeat, in which the visitors squandered a string of chances up front and struggled in defence in stormy conditions, will increase the pressure on manager Barnes.

Ged Brannan gave Celtic a rude awakening when he curled in a free-kick to put Motherwell ahead within the opening 10 minutes.

But it looked like being little more than an early scare as Israeli midfielder Eyal Berkovic levelled matters for the Glasgow giants when his header from Vidar Riseth's cross crept past keeper Stephen Woods.

Victory in sights

Mark Viduka then scored with a penalty to give Celtic a great chance of victory.

But just when the visitors should have been hanging on for the three points, their self-discipline deserted them as half-time approached.

With 44 minutes on the clock Derek Townley Motherwell equalised at the worst possible time, his low drive evading Celtic keeper Jonathan Gould.

Four minutes after the break former Wolves frontman Don Goodman fired what proved to be the winner, to the delight of the Fir Park faithful.

But there was still time for both teams to waste a host of chances, as the game took on a frenetic, reckless pace.

The worst offender proved to be Celtic's Lubomir Moravcik, who scuffed the ball over the bar when Berkovic had left him in the clear just six yards out.

Teams:

Motherwell: Woods, Doesburg, Kemble, Teale, McMillan, Twaddle, Valakari, Brannan, Townsley, Goodman, McCulloch.
Subs: Nicholas, Nevin, Thomas, Davies, Brown.

Celtic: Gould, McNamara, Tebily, Stubbs, Mjallby, Mahe, Berkovic, Petrov, Riseth, Moravcik, Viduka.
Subs: Wieghorst, Wright, Kerr, Smith, Burchill.

Referee: Jim McCluskey (Scotland)
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See also:
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Links to other Scottish Premier stories are at the foot of the page.