Motherwell’s mindset against bigger clubs has to change says manager Graham Alexander after his side were edged out by Celtic in the Scottish Premiership.
Celtic won back-to-back games league games for the first time since December, but after Allan Campbell scored for Motherwell they made it a nervy finish for the champions.
And Alexander wants his team to stop treating Celtic away as a “free hit”.
“Every game is an opportunity to win points,” Alexander told BBC Scotland.
“I don’t want it to be seen when we play the big clubs as a free hit and we just look at the next game. And we were so close to taking a point there. Every game we have to have belief we can cause the opposition problems.”
Motherwell fell behind to an early Stephen Welsh header, his first goal for the champions, before Odsonne Edouard added a second.
Campbell scored a fine counter to get Motherwell back into the game, and the visitors also had strong claims for a first-half penalty.
The win leaves Celtic 20 points behind Premiership leaders Rangers with a game in hand.
Motherwell remain ninth after losing for the first time in three games, but they were left to ponder what might have been after missing late chances to earn a point.
Reaction & as it happenedElhamed set for return to IsraelIt was a whirlwind start from Celtic. Their first attack earned a corner, from which Welsh powerfully headed home his first goal for the Glasgow club.
From there, they looked in the mood. Edouard flashed a header wide from close range, before David Turnbull twice went close from outside the area and debutant Jonjoe Kenny had a low shot blocked by the goalkeeper as Motherwell were rocked against the ropes.
In the midst of the pressure though, Bevis Mugabi met a Motherwell free-kick but headed weakly at keeper Scott Bain.
For all Celtic’s possession, the visitors were only a goal behind and they continued to carry a threat themselves.
Chris Long’s jinking run was curtailed by Kristoffer Ajer on the edge of the box, with debate over whether it should have been a penalty. A free-kick was given, from which Long forced a save from Bain.
Something had to give, though, as Motherwell allowed Celtic too much of the ball. Edouard and Turnbull both passed up chances, before the former exchanged passes with McGregor and drove the ball inside the near post to double the lead.
Celtic didn’t relent. Turnbull had a long-range shot tipped wide and Ajeti headed over from close range. But just as you thought Celtic were going to run over the visitors, back came Motherwell.
Devante Cole’s shot was saved and Mugabi headed wide from close range, but they pulled one back when Campbell superbly chipped Bain from outside the area.
All of a sudden Celtic were hanging on. Long drove a ball across the box, but Cole did not know much about it and it hit off him, while Jordan Roberts could not get to the loose ball at the back post.
At the other end, Liam Kelly brilliantly palmed away Tom Rogic’s powerful shot and Mohamed Elyounoussi’s effort was deflected just past a post.
But as the seconds ticked away Motherwell almost snatched a point. Harry Smith met a looping cross, headed towards the far post, and Diego Laxalt had to clear off the goalline with almost the last kick.
Man of the match – Greg TaylorThe full-back was a constant menace down the left hand side for Celtic, linking well with Callum McGregor and Albian Ajeti and providing some good crosses into the boxWhat did we learn?The midweek win over Kilmarnock had installed confidence in Celtic. The early goal settled any early nerves and they played to a level above what they have been at for some time.
But when they conceded their confidence was frazzled, and in the end they may count themselves fortunate to have taken all three points. It was very much a case of impressive going forward but unconvincing still at the back.
Motherwell deserve credit for having an attacking mindset. In the first half, they gave Celtic far too much of the ball and were punished for it, but they kept at it and could have taken home a point on another day.
What did they say?Motherwell equaliser ‘would have been an injustice’ – Neil LennonCeltic manager Neil Lennon: “I thought we were superb for long periods and 2-0 didn’t flatter us – we deserved to be more in front. Then Motherwell got a bit of luck with their goal and the psychology of the game changes.
“We got a bit anxious towards the end, but thoroughly deserved the win. We had to rely on Diego for a great clearance at the end, but an equaliser would have been a great injustice.”
Motherwell manager Graham Alexander: “I thought we really grew into the game, we had more confidence on the ball, and we scored a great goal from Allan Campbell who from me was the best player on the pitch.
“We went so close to getting that equaliser and on our second-half performance I think we would have deserved it.”
What’s next?Celtic are away to St Mirren on Wednesday (18:00 GMT kick-off), while Motherwell visit Kilmarnock on the same evening (18:00).
Player of the match
with an average of 7.96
CelticSquad number57Player nameWelsh
Squad number14Player nameTurnbull
Squad number3Player nameTaylor
Squad number22Player nameEdouard
Squad number16Player nameKenny
Squad number35Player nameAjer
Squad number42Player nameMcGregor
Squad number18Player nameRogic
Squad number12Player nameSoro
Squad number29Player nameBain
Squad number93Player nameLaxalt
Squad number8Player nameBrown
Squad number27Player nameElyounoussi
Squad number10Player nameAjeti
Squad number9Player nameGriffiths
MotherwellSquad number6Player nameCampbell
Squad number8Player nameCrawford
Squad number44Player nameCole
Squad number9Player nameLong
Squad number16Player nameMugabi
Squad number33Player nameO’Donnell
Squad number13Player nameKelly
Squad number3Player nameCarroll
Squad number15Player nameMaguire
Squad number7Player nameO’Hara
Squad number4Player nameLamie
Squad number32Player nameWatt
Squad number39Player nameRoberts
Squad number29Player nameSmith
29Bain16Kenny57Welsh35Ajer3TaylorSubstituted forLaxaltat 70’minutes8BrownSubstituted forSoroat 70’minutes14TurnbullSubstituted forElyounoussiat 80’minutes42McGregor18Rogic22Edouard10AjetiSubstituted forGriffithsat 68’minutesSubstitutes1Barkas4Duffy9Griffiths11Klimala12Soro19Johnston27Elyounoussi52Henderson93LaxaltMotherwellFormation 4-3-3
13Kelly33O’Donnell16Mugabi4Lamie3Carroll6Campbell8CrawfordSubstituted forO’Haraat 68’minutes15MaguireSubstituted forSmithat 81’minutesBooked at 90mins9Long44ColeBooked at 90mins32WattBooked at 68minsSubstituted forRobertsat 68’minutesSubstitutes7O’Hara11Hastie19Polworth23Morrison26Cornelius27Johnston29Smith39Roberts40MagloireLive TextMatch ends, Celtic 2, Motherwell 1.
Second Half ends, Celtic 2, Motherwell 1.
Attempt saved. Harry Smith (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jordan Roberts with a cross.
Attempt blocked. Harry Smith (Motherwell) header from the right side of the six yard box is blocked. Assisted by Ricki Lamie with a cross.
Foul by Stephen Welsh (Celtic).
Harry Smith (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Harry Smith (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Stephen Welsh (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Harry Smith (Motherwell).
Devante Cole (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Ismaila Soro (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Devante Cole (Motherwell).
Attempt saved. Mohamed Elyounoussi (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ismaila Soro.
Hand ball by Allan Campbell (Motherwell).
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Allan Campbell.
Attempt blocked. Mohamed Elyounoussi (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Leigh Griffiths.
Foul by Ismaila Soro (Celtic).
Jordan Roberts (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Offside, Celtic. Leigh Griffiths tries a through ball, but Kristoffer Ajer is caught offside.
Substitution, Motherwell. Harry Smith replaces Barry Maguire.
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