FULL-TIME! Motherwell 0-4 Celtic
Well then, that was something.
Odsonne Edouard’s goal had the game balancing on a knife-edge going into half time, but despite a strong performance from the home side in the first 45, they were simply outclassed in the second.
Leigh Griffiths made it two soon after the break with an instinctive low finish, and after missing a multitude of chances for number three, it was Callum McGregor who got it with a stunning volley.
The lively Rolando Aarons’ withdrawal perhaps signified the conceding of the game for Motherwell, who suffered a late fourth when Edouard struck with a spectacular free-kick.
It could have been more, but four will do for Neil Lennon and his men.
Edouard off for Klimala
Here he goes. A genuinely unbelievable performance from the big striker but he won’t have the chance to get his hattrick, as he’s replaced by January acquisition Patryk Klimala for the final few moments.
Quite the ovation from the away end.
GOAL! Edouard converts free-kick to make it four
That Celtic free-kick we talked about? Yeah.
Edouard curls it beautifully into the top corner and we have a good old-fashioned rout on our hands.
It’s difficult to quantify his value to this Celtic side - he can do everything, and all of it with devastating effectiveness.
'We shall not be moved'
The shout from the away supporters at present.
Perhaps slightly premature, but you can’t blame them for being confident off the back of this performance.
GOAL! McGregor stunner makes it three
That’s a wrap folks, and in some style.
Callum McGregor takes one touch to set himself up on the edge of the area, and as the ball bounces across him, he unleashes a spectacular volleyed effort into the top corner.
Great work from James Forrest down the right to set it up.
Griffiths off for Christie
And a change for Celtic too as goalscorer Griffiths, who has really grown into this game, makes way for Ryan Christie.
Double change for Motherwell
On come Christy Manzinga and Ross MacIver for Chris Long and Jermaine Hylton, as Stephen Robinson has one final throw of the dice.
Edouard goes close
Edouard is the latest gracious receiver of a chance to score, but leaves it too late to release the ball, as Gillespie gets his body in the way of an attempted dink from a very tight angle.
Great chance Ntcham
They are really lining up to score now.
The absolutely unplayable Edouard turns provider once again, this time playing in Olivier Ntcham, who inexplicably puts it over the target from ten yards.
What started as a fairly average Celtic performance is threatening to turn into a route if Motherwell don’t get themselves together at the back - they are crumbling.
Griffiths off the bar
His first half wasn’t the best but we’re starting to see more and more of Griffiths’ predatory instincts now he is of the mark.
He drifts into a pocket of space to receive a Taylor pass before snatching it over, and then seconds later he rifles a header off the bar from an Edouard cross.
Slack from Jullien
A modicum or two of complacency seeping in it seems.
Chris Jullien heaps needless pressure on his side, as he widlly misjudges a simple pass to Forster and sends the ball out for a Motherwell corner.
Nothing comes of it but it’s a sign Celtic could do with sharpening up a touch.
Off comes Aarons
He’s had a strong debut but Rolando Aarons doesn’t make the hour mark on his first Motherwell appearance.
He’s replaced by Sherwin Seedorf as the Steelmen look to salvage something.
Celtic taking charge
The goal was exactly what Celtic will have wanted, but for the competitive edge of the game, it’s about the worst thing that could have happened.
It was fiery, but now it has a real routine feel to it as the visitors stroke the ball about with a self-assuredness that tells you they are not throwing this away.
Still 35 to go, however.
GOAL! Griffiths doubles the lead
It’s been a strong start to the second half from Celtic, and it’s capped off by a much-needed second goal.
Callum McGregor charges down the left and picks out Griffiths, who calmly finishes off as if it’s second nature.
And we’re back. Motherwell kick us off as they look to find a route back into the game.
Celtic haven’t dropped points after taking the lead in the league this season - will tonight be the night?
Half-time: Motherwell 0-1 Celtic
And that’s it for the first half, the sides separated only by Odsonne Edouard’s early strike.
There’s been little in the game with Motherwell perhaps feeling aggrieved to be behind, but as is so often the case with Celtic, clinical finishing has been the difference.
Rolando Aarons has been lively for the hosts and might feel he should have done better with the pick of his chances on the brink of the break, but Fraser Forster was there to meet it.
Griffiths could have doubled the visitors’ lead while Jermaine Hilton and Chris Long both also missed half-chances, but as it stands it’s Neil Lennon’s men with their noses in front.
We’ll be back with more very shortly.
Big save from Forster
It’s Aarons causing the problems once again, finding space at the back-post on this occasion, and the winger looked destined to score this time as he lined up a left-footed effort.
No thanks says Forster, however, who meets it with a paw and sends it behind. That could be a huge save in the context of Celtic’s season.
Little to report as we pass the 40-minute mark.
You get the impression Motherwell are reserving energy for another big push before half-time.
That or they’ve just run out of steam after what has been an energetic performance so far.
Spirited stuff from 'Well
Despite the scoreline it’s likely to be Robinson who is the happier of the two managers so far.
Celtic haven’t been bad, but goal aside they’ve been kept to very little, with the hosts matching them and then some in terms of chances created.
Of course the Hoops’ specialty is outlasting opponents, so you get the impression Motherwell need to make a spirited first half count with a goal of their own.
At the moment, that doesn’t look a million miles away by any means.
Hylton forces a save
Hylton has been a real threat so far, and forces Forster into his first real save with a powerful low effort.
The forward showed great strength to hold off Jozo Simunovic outside the area before turning and getting an effort away, though it’s held by the big keeper with minimal fuss.
Aarons just wide
Hearts in mouths moment for Celtic as Polworth causes havoc down the left.
The lively Aarons is on the end of his ball in, but Taylor intervenes and draws a foul as he tries to direct the ball goalwards.
It skips just wide but the whistle had gone for a free-kick anyway.
Stamp from Chris Long?
There’s been a lot of talk about alleged stamps from strikers in games involving Celtic recently.
It’s Motherwell striker Long’s turn now, and he looked to have left one in on Scott Brown’s ankle. It’s adjudged to be accidental by the referee, just as Griffiths’ was at the weekend.
These things balance themselves out, etc.
McGregor has a crack
Liam Polworth skies one from 25 yards, before McGregor tries his luck from distance on the half-volley.
The Celtic man’s is the better effort but neither test the respective keepers.
Here he is, look. The man of the hour.
And he has every reason to be smiling after his first 20 minutes here.
Ajer heads over
Griffiths floats in a free-kick from the left, and the three central defenders are queueing up to attack it.
Kris Ajer gets there but sends it over, much to the dismay of Chris Jullien coming in behind him who looked better placed to get over it.
End to end stuff
Well that’s sprung things into action.
Moments after Chris Long fluffs a chance to equalise at one end, Griffiths blasts one over at the other, and we have a game on our hands.
GOAL! Edouard scores for the visitors
It’s seven goals in six games for Odsonne Edouard, who slots an effort past Mark Gillespie on the second bite of the cherry.
The striker took a pass from Callum McGregor in his stride, and saw his first effort blocked, but made no mistake on the second attempt.
It’s immediate punishment for Motherwell, just seconds after spurning a big opportunity at the other end.
Chance for Hylton
The first big chance of the game falls to Motherwell winger Jermaine Hylton, who scuffs an effort wide.
Aarons proves the creator once again, driving down the right and forcing one into the area that causes confusion among the Celtic defence.
It eventually falls to Hylton with a clear sight of goal at the back post, but no dice on the finish. You wonder how many more of those chances they’ll get.
Both sides settling for feeling each other out in the opening few minutes. Celtic happy to have the ball while Motherwell press cautiously without forcing the issue.
Celtic made a real statement about their title ambitions at the expense of Motherwell, as Neil Lennon's men negotiated a difficult fixture with aplomb and swept their hosts aside by four goals to nil.
The on-fire Odsonne Edouard opened and closed the scoring on a hugely profitable evening for Celtic, the first with a cool low finish and the second with a stunning free-kick.
The scoreline perhaps betrayed what was a spirited first half from Motherwell, however. The debuting Rolando Aarons looked a threat throughout and Fraser Forster had to be at his best to keep the winger off the scoresheet.
But although the sides were separated by just a single goal at the break, that was soon rectified by a clinical second 45 from the Premiership leaders.
Leigh Griffiths got the much-needed second after some terrific work from Callum McGregor down the left, before the industrious midfielder made it three himself with a stunning left-footed volley.
Motherwell would only capitulate further, and Edouard was afforded the opportunity to net his eighth goal in six appearances when Ryan Christie was brought down by Declan Gallagher 20 yards out.
As he is wont to do, he duly obliged. His unstoppable free-kick capped off an unstoppable performance from the French striker - and indeed his side.
News of Rangers' late winner means their seven point lead remains just that, but the nature of the win nonetheless felt hugely significant for the defending champions.
3 talking points
Aarons vs Taylor
Celtic switching to a 3-5-2 shape might have been expected to benefit Boli Bolingoli, whose attacking instincts seem more suited to a left wing-back role. Instead it’s Taylor who’s really made the role his own.
Right from the off it looked a though there would be an intriguing battle down the Motherwell right, with new signing Rolando Aarons looking to take on Taylor in the opening minutes. The Scotland international got the better of him on that occasion.
The Celtic defender then did enough to put Aarons off as he looked set to grab an equaliser just shy of the half hour mark, but the on loan Newcastle United man looked a threat until he went off in the second half.
It’s a measure of how well Taylor is playing right now that he largely dealt with that threat, showing the defensive nous you’re unlikely to get from Bolingoli.
Odsonne Edouard is increasingly looking like the kind of player who is just too good to remain in Scotland for long.
It’s not just his goals, though his finish for the first was typically composed. The striker is skilful and intelligent, capable of dropping deep to create as well as finishing off chances.
His nutmeg on Alan Campbell in the first half had the Motherwell player looking utterly bewildered and rightly so, there’s no stopping ‘French Eddy’ when he’s on this form.
When Motherwell gave away a free-kick on the edge of the box you just knew what was going to happen and Edouard curled in a beautiful strike that left the goalkeeper with no chance.
Who can stop Celtic?
For much of the evening it looked as though Rangers were going to slip even further behind in the title race, only for Ianis Hagi to grab a late winner at Ibrox.
But on this kind of form you’d think Steven Gerrard’s side will have to be perfect between now and the end of the season because Celtic just do not look like dropping points.
Motherwell put in a good showing on the night and still ended up on the wrong side of a 4-0 battering, just as Hamilton had when they lost 4-1 on Sunday.
That Neil Lennon was able to turn to Ryan Christie, Tom Rogic and Patryk Klimala off the bench says it all.