Celtic will end 2010 top of the Scottish Premier League after beating Motherwell in Glasgow.
Paddy McCourt's skilful run and shot gave the home side the lead midway through the first half.
The winger had earlier headed wide with Emilio Izaguirre and Joe Ledley also off-target during a concerted period of Celtic pressure.
Motherwell rarely threatened but found themselves a man up in the closing stages after Scott Brown's dismissal.
With Rangers' midweek match against St Johnstone postponed, the win for Neil Lennon's side takes them a point clear, having played two games more than their Glasgow rivals. The top two will meet in the second Old Firm match of the season at Ibrox on Sunday but Celtic captain Brown will now be banned for that game.
For Motherwell, a third straight defeat leaves them sixth ahead of Stuart McCall's expected appointment as the Fir Park club's new manager.
Celtic were on the front foot from the off and Izaguirre blasted over after his initial shot had been blocked by goalkeeper Darren Randolph.
McCourt then weaved past several Motherwell defenders before cutting the ball back into a dangerous area only for Steven Hammell to make a last-ditch clearance.
Celtic trialist Freddie Ljungberg watched from the stand
The visiting goal continued to come under pressure with Brown's mis-hit shot turned into the net by Olivier Kapo, but the Frenchman was forced to wait for his first Celtic goal by the offside flag.
McCourt then headed wide from James Forrest's excellent cross but the former did find the net when he gave Celtic a deserved lead in the 27th minute.
Mark Wilson took a short corner to McCourt, who worked his way into a shooting position before planting a shot into the bottom corner.
Carelessness in possession by Motherwell's Tom Hateley gave Ledley a run at goal but the Welsh midfielder dragged his shot wide.
Kapo's first Celtic start came to an end before half-time when the forward was replaced by Daryl Murphy, who himself was taken off injured shortly after the break as Biram Kayal was introduced from the bench.
Having rarely threatened in the first half, Motherwell were more of an attacking force at the start of the second period and Alan Gow's header from Chris Humphrey's cross was collected by Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
A sequence of bookings and untidy challenges peppered the play and disrupted the fluency of the game, making scoring chances few and far between.
In one break, McCourt threatened again but on this occasion Randolph made the save.
As the match wound down, Brown, who had previously been booked, was penalised for his challenge on Hammell and the midfielder was promptly shown a second yellow and a red card.
Galvanised by their advantage in numbers, the visitors pressed in search of a late leveller but Keith Lasley's shot could not find its way through a ruck of players as Celtic held on.
Live text and stats
Wednesday, 29 December 2010
05 Majstorovic yellow card
08 Brown two yellow cards, red card
77 Kapo (Murphy 38) (Baram Kayal 52 yellow card)
49 Forrest (McGinn 88)
33 Baram Kayal,
05 Craigan yellow card
06 Hateley yellow card
14 Lasley yellow card
17 Fitzpatrick (Sutton 88)
09 Murphy (Blackman 76)
Ref: FinnieAtt: 40,750
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
94:21 The referee blows his whistle to end the game.
90:00+3:34 Stephen Craigan gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Anthony Stokes. Free kick taken by Fraser Forster.
90:00+1:21 Foul by Alan Gow on Beram Kayal, free kick awarded. Anthony Stokes takes the free kick.
89:34 Sent off Scott Brown is shown a red card for second bookable offence.
87:53 Substitution Marc Fitzpatrick goes off and John Sutton comes on.
87:23 Substitution James Forrest leaves the field to be replaced by Niall McGinn.
85:25 Chris Humphrey gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Emilio Izaguirre. Daniel Majstorovic restarts play with the
84:21 Unfair challenge on Thomas Rogne by Nick Blackman results in a free kick. Mark Wilson restarts play with the free kick.
82:34 Handball decision goes against Keith Lasley. Fraser Forster restarts play with the free kick.
80:17 Stephen Craigan challenges Anthony Stokes unfairly and gives away a free kick. Mark Wilson restarts play with the free kick.
79:42 Centre by Patrick McCourt, clearance made by Stephen Craigan.
76:16 Foul by Alan Gow on Daniel Majstorovic, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Emilio Izaguirre.
75:16 Substitution Jamie Murphy leaves the field to be replaced by Nick Blackman.
73:16 Corner taken right-footed by Mark Wilson from the left by-line, clearance by Alan Gow.
71:15 Booking The referee shows Stephen Craigan a yellow card.
70:07 Patrick McCourt takes a shot. Save by Darren Randolph.
68:15 Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Alan Gow. Inswinging corner taken by Alan Gow. Free kick awarded for a foul by Steven
Saunders on Daniel Majstorovic. Free kick taken by Daniel Majstorovic.
68:15 Booking Keith Lasley is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.
66:11 Booking Beram Kayal goes into the referee's book.
65:48 Booking Tom Hateley is shown a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
64:58 Chris Humphrey is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Daniel Majstorovic takes the free kick.
62:46 Keith Lasley fouled by Beram Kayal, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Stephen Craigan.
60:13 Alan Gow crosses the ball, save made by Fraser Forster.
58:03 Chris Humphrey produces a cross, save made by Fraser Forster.
57:12 The ball is swung over by Chris Humphrey.
56:36 Steven Saunders delivers the ball, Mark Wilson manages to make a clearance. Inswinging corner taken by Tom Hateley, Emilio
Izaguirre makes a clearance.
56:36 Booking The referee shows Scott Brown a yellow card.
53:50 The referee blows for offside against Anthony Stokes. Indirect free kick taken by Stephen Craigan.
51:46 Substitution Beram Kayal on for Daryl Murphy.
49:04 Steven Saunders is ruled offside. Fraser Forster takes the indirect free kick.
48:17 James Forrest concedes a free kick for a foul on Jamie Murphy. Tom Hateley crosses the ball in from the free kick, clearance
made by Joe Ledley.
46:29 The referee blows for offside. Emilio Izaguirre takes the indirect free kick.
45:01 The second half kicks off.
45:00+1:04 The match has reached half-time.
42:00 Centre by Chris Humphrey, clearance by Emilio Izaguirre. Inswinging corner taken by Alan Gow, clearance by Daniel Majstorovic.
41:00 Scott Brown gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Tom Hateley. Stevie Hammell takes the free kick.
39:39 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Alan Gow by Daniel Majstorovic. Tom Hateley takes the direct free kick.
39:39 Booking Daniel Majstorovic goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.
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