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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 September, 2003, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
Celtic sink Motherwell
Henrik Larsson was on target for Celtic
Celtic 3-0 Motherwell

Second-half goals from Henrik Larsson, Chris Sutton and Shaun Maloney gave Celtic maximum points against Motherwell at Parkhead.

The visitors gave a good account of themselves in an even first half and managed to cause a few scares in the Celtic defence.

However, once Celtic scored their second goal the wind went from Motherwell's sails and the home side could have won by a more comfortable margin.

The victory takes Celtic to the top of the league - one point clear of Glasgow rivals Rangers, who travel to Hearts on Sunday.

Celtic showed just one change from the side that lost out to Bayern Munich on Wednesday, with Momo Sylla replacing the suspended Didier Agathe.

Sutton, making his first league appearance of the season after a five-match suspension, continued in a midfield role behind strikers John Hartson and Larsson.

Motherwell, who replaced striker Alex Burns with Steven Craig, started brightly but looked vulnerable when Celtic took the aerial route and Larsson headed over the crossbar from close range after 11 minutes.

The visitors were moving the ball around with confidence and Stephen Pearson squandered an great early chance when he misjudged the flight of a Keith Lasley cross when bearing down on goal.

Motherwell full back Steven Hammell then fired a vicious shot narrowly wide of the target.

With 25 minutes gone, Larsson fired in a low curling shot that looked destined for the bottom corner of the net before veteran keeper Gordon Marshall got his fingertips to it.

Ten minutes later Larsson burst on to Hartson's headed flick-on and went to ground after a challenge from the on-rushing Marshall, but, as the home support screamed for a penalty, the Swede was shown a yellow card for diving.

Stephen Pearson had a couple of chances for Motherwell
Larsson then saw a header flash inches wide of the post and Celtic defender Bobo Balde also went close with a header as Motherwell were pinned back at the end of the first half.

The second period was just a few minutes old when Larsson was given room to head home a Thompson free kick from just inside the penalty box.

Motherwell responded with a good break down the left from Pearson but Craig, under pressure from Jackie McNamara, could not direct his team-mate's cross anywhere near the goal.

Pearson was then given a clear sight of goal when he met a Lasley pass in the Celtic penalty area, but Magnus Hedman was able to save the young midfielder's weak shot with his feet.

Play moved immediately down to the other end of the park and Marshall was at full stretch to gather Thompson's header from a Larsson cut-back.

Celtic increased their lead after 64 minutes when Larsson found Sutton with a wonderful pass and the big English striker slotted the ball past Marshall from 12 yards out.

And the home side extended their advantage six minutes later when a fantastic curling free kick from substitute Maloney found the top corner of the net.

A Sylla shot that took a wicked deflection struck the post late in the game and Marshall was able to push away Sutton's follow-up effort.

Celtic: Hedman, Varga, Balde, McNamara, Sylla, Lennon (Gray 72), Sutton, Petrov (Miller 72), Thompson, Hartson (Maloney 60), Larsson. Subs Not Used: Marshall, Beattie.

Motherwell: Marshall, Corrigan, Partridge, Craigan, Hammell, Adams, Pearson, Leitch (Wright 74), Lasley, Clarkson, Craig. Subs Not Used: Corr, Quinn, McDonald, Mathie.

Attendance: 58,013
Referee: I Brines

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