Glasgow (AFP) – Moussa Dembele’s hot-streak continued as his late penalty sealed a 2-0 win for Celtic over Motherwell in the Premiership on Saturday the perfect boost for their Champions League clash with Borussia Monchengladbach.
Dembele — who scored a double for the France Under-21 side in the international break — and another goal by the equally prolific Scott Sinclair ensured Celtic maintained their four point lead at the top of the table.
Sinclair opened the scoring in the 19th minute as he produced a fine finish to slam home James Forrest’s cross.
Motherwell had conceded 12 in their last two visits to Celtic Park and the visitors had Craig Samson to thank for keeping the scoreline down as he made a string of saves to deny Celtic.
However, he was at fault for fouling Dembele to concede an 88th minute penalty which he converted for his 13th goal of the season.
It extends Celtic’s unbeaten run to six since their 7-0 mauling by Barcelona ahead of a week where they host Monchengladbach before facing Old Firm rivals Rangers, who moved up to fourth following their 1-0 away to Inverness on Friday, for a place in the League Cup final on Sunday.
“I thought some of our intricate play was good and some of the quality of our football was outstanding and we created chances but we could have created more,” Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers said.
His Motherwell counterpart Mark McGhee felt his side had matched up better to Celtic than on previous visits.
“Tactically we tried to come up with something different and it worked to an extent as it made us hard to beat,” said McGhee.
A sustained period of pressure saw Dembele test Samson before the keeper tipped over a header from Erik Sviatchenko as Celtic probed for an opener.
It came through Sinclair.
The Motherwell defence backed away from the advancing James Forrest whose square pass along the edge of the box was missed by Dembele before Sinclair buried the ball past Samson with a fine first time finish.
Dembele came close to adding a second for Celtic before the break.
Scott Brown made a surging run forward from his own half and found Dembele lurking just inside the box, but his curling effort came crashing off the base of the upright before the danger was cleared.
Celtic began the second half as they ended the first and only a superb double save from Samson kept them at bay when the keeper got down low to deny Brown’s low strike before getting back on his feet to smother the follow-up effort from Dembele.
The keeper blotted his copy book late on when he brought down Dembele in the box with the French striker sending the keeper the wrong way with his spot kick.
Aberdeen maintained their grip on second place with a 4-0 win over Ross County while Hearts remain third following their 2-0 win over Dundee.
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