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 Sunday, 1 December, 2002, 16:51 GMT
Celtic see off brave Well
Larsson celebrates his goal
Henrik Larsson opened the scoring for Celtic
Celtic 3-1 Motherwell

Celtic were made to work as hard as they have in recent weeks to beat a battling Motherwell at Celtic Park.

The home side spurned chance after chance in the first half, including a Henrik Larsson penalty, while the visitors made Rab Douglas work hard on a few occasions.

But Larsson finally made the breakthrough before a Scott Leitch own-goal and a close-range effort from Joos Valgaeren made the points safe.

Dirk Lehmann scored a consolation goal that was no more than Well deserved for their brave performance.

Only two minutes had elapsed when Celtic were handed the ideal opportunity to open the scoring as David Fernandez was felled in the area.

Scott Leitch despairs after his own goal
Scott Leitch despairs after his own goal

Larsson stepped up to take the spot-kick, but he uncharacteristically sent the ball wide of the post.

John Hartson sent a header over the bar and Larsson saw a goalbound effort well-blocked by William Kinniburgh, before Fernandez knocked the ball wide from close range.

The opening goal looked inevitable and Paul Lambert headed narrowly over in Celtic's next attack.

Motherwell first tested Douglas with half-an-hour gone, Steven Ferguson rifling in a left-foot shot that the keeper pushed behind.

Douglas then parried a Martyn Corrigan header from the resultant corner before saving brilliantly from Ferguson's close-range effort.

Alan Thompson spurned a good opportunity just before half time when he fired over despite finding time and space in the box.

Celtic began the second half on the attack and Stephen Crainey and Larsson were among those denied by stout Motherwell defending in the opening exhanges of the half.

Larsson thought he had broken the deadlock in 52 minutes but his header was cleared off the line.

He only had to wait a further minute for his goal, though, tucking the ball past the Motherwell keeper at the back post from eight yards out.

Shaun Fagan troops off after his red card
Shaun Fagan troops off after his red card
The Swede had another uncharacteristic miss shortly afterwards, shooting over after rounding the keeper and then Hartson had an incredible double miss.

James McFadden was allowed plenty space to shoot just after the hour mark, but the youngster dragged his effort wide.

Any doubt as to the destination of the three points was removed when Leitch directed a cross-cum-shot by Steve Guppy into his own net midway through the second half.

Valgaeren made it three in 72 minutes, following up after Dubourdeau had parried Larsson's shot on the turn, to put Celtic on easy street.

But Motherwell, who had performed creditably throughout, pulled a goal back through Lehmann just moments later, the German heading beyond Douglas.

Shaun Fagan was ordered off with 10 minutes remaining after he stupidly punched the ball into the net, having aleady been booked.


Celtic: Douglas, Valgaeren, Balde, Crainey, Agathe (Sylla 75), Lambert, Thompson, Fernandez, Guppy (McNamara 75), Larsson (Maloney 75), Hartson.
Subs Not Used: Gould, Sutton.

Booked: Lambert.

Motherwell: Dubourdeau, Corrigan, Kinniburgh, Dempsie (Quinn 67), Hammell, Ferguson (Khaled 65), Fagan, Leitch (McDonald 84), Adams, McFadden, Lehmann.
Subs Not Used: Woods, Clarkson.

Sent Off: Fagan (80).

Booked: Fagan, Dempsie.

Attendance: 56,733

Referee: J Rowbotham

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC Five Live's Roddy Forsyth
"Both will settle for the way it turned out"
 Celtic manager Martin O'Neill
"I was a bit concerned in the first half"
 Motherwell boss Terry Butcher
"I've played in Rangers teams that haven't played as well as that here"
The SPL season gets under way

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