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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 December, 2003, 16:52 GMT
Celtic sink Motherwell
Celtic's Alan Thompson
Alan Thompson scored Celtic's second goal at Fir Park
Motherwell 0-2 Celtic

Celtic maintained their eight point lead at the top of the Premier League with a businesslike win at Fir Park.

John Hartson scored an early goal for the visitors and Alan Thompson doubled Celtic's advantage 20 minutes from time with a fine free kick.

Celtic goalkeeper Robert Douglas made a wonderful save from a Derek Adams penalty kick in the first half.

Motherwell made Celtic work hard for the points and had chances to get back into the game.

The visitors could have been ahead in the first minute but Well keeper Gordon Marshall spared Stephen Craigan's blushes by saving the defender's poor attempted clearance from Alan Thompson's cross.

However, Marsahll was beaten three minutes later as Scott Leitch got a slight deflection on Thompson's cross and Hartson arrived at the back post to fire home.

Chris Sutton and Hartson then had opportunities to increase Celtic's lead but both men sent their efforts straight at Marshall.

Motherwell were hanging on as Sutton fired into the side-netting after Liam Miller had charged down Martyn Corrigan's clearance.

The home team recovered from a shaky start and Derek Adams came within inches of scoring as his free-kick, out near the corner flag, caught Robert Douglas by surprise and came crashing back off the bar.

The same player then curled a 22-yard free-kick just past the upright after Bobo Balde had upended Scott Leitch.

Motherwell youngster David Clarkson then won his side a dubious penalty when he went to ground after a challenge from Johan Mjallby.

But keeper Robert Douglas, who is keen on a move away from Celtic, made a wonderful save to stop Adams' fiercely struck spot kick.

David Clarkson and Bobo Balde
Motherwell put Celtic under pressure in the first half
Motherwell finished the first half strongly and Clarkson embarrassed Balde by going past him with ease but shot wide with just Douglas to beat.

Celtic were dealt a blow just five minutes before the interval as top scorer Henrik Larsson trudged off the pitch to be replaced by Jamie Smith.

Motherwell started the second half well and Steven Hammell and Stephen Pearson combined to release striker Alex Burns inside the box but he was caught in two minds and his weak shot was saved by Douglas.

Marshall gifted Celtic a great in the 55th minute when he pushed a cross from Liam Miller straight to Smith, but the substitute blazed over the crossbar.

With Motherwell running out of puff and ideas, Celtic were finding gaps in the home defence and Stilian Petrov was upended 20-yards from goal as he raced goalward.

From the resultant free kick Thompson curled a delicious strike over the defensive wall and into the net.

Motherwell could not muster a late challenge and Celtic held on comfortably for their sixteenth straight league win.

Motherwell: Marshall, Corrigan, Craigan, Quinn, Hammell, Lasley, Leitch (Dair 76), Adams, Pearson, Burns, Clarkson. Subs Not Used: Corr, Fagan, Wright, Fitzpatrick.

Celtic: Douglas, Varga, Mjallby, Balde, Miller, Petrov, Lennon, Sutton, Thompson, Hartson, Larsson (Smith 41). Subs Not Used: Marshall, Gray, Maloney, Wallace.

Attendance: 10,513
Referee: J Underhill

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