Motherwell 1-1 Celtic: Danny Johnson’s late goal earns point

Motherwell v Celtic

Ryan Christie’s goal was his sixth in nine games for Celtic

Danny Johnson’s late goal earned Motherwell a precious Scottish Premiership point and prevented Celtic returning to the top of the table.

Brendan Rodgers’ side looked like returning to the summit thanks to Ryan Christie’s sumptuous goal – his sixth in nine games – but they stay second.

Leigh Griffiths had a first-half spot-kick saved by Mark Gillespie and Filip Benkovic had an effort disallowed.

Johnston skidded a late shot past Craig Gordon to earn an unlikely draw.

Champions Celtic now trail Kilmarnock by a point – with two games and hand – and trail Rangers by goal difference. On Saturday, Celtic host Kilmarnock, whose manager Steve Clarke has yet to lose to the Parkhead side in his spell at Rugby Park.

Motherwell, whose best chance before the goal was a Conor Sammon shot straight at Gordon, stay ninth – six points clear of the relegation play-off place.

Christie class amid chaos

Most of the discussion pre-match was on who had been left out of the Celtic team.

From Sunday’s League Cup final win there were seven changes in total, including Odsonne Edouard, Tom Rogic and James Forrest all dropping out, with captain Scott Brown among those returning.

However, it did not take long into proceedings at a misty Fir Park for the headlines to turn to one man who is simply undroppable.

Sitting narrow on the left of the Celtic midfield, Christie was unplayable at times, particularly early on as Motherwell, who lost captain Peter Hartley after six minutes to injury, were pushed deeper and deeper.

On 13 minutes, the man who won Rodgers his seventh trophy as Celtic manager at the weekend demonstrated his class.

With the hosts’ defence a man light while Liam Donnelly was off receiving treatment, a surging run and perfect pass unleashed Christie in the Motherwell box. A neat first touch gave him time, before a crisp finish across Gillespie arrowed into the far bottom corner.

It was a game of few chances as Stephen Robinson’s side, despite a heroic shift, struggled to repel Celtic for long enough to create any opportunities of their own.

Ten minutes after taking the lead, Benkovic had the ball in the net as the large travelling support celebrated, only for referee Kevin Clancy to rule it out for a tug in the box.

This should have been a warning for Motherwell, but with half-time approaching, they looked to self destruct.

Christie was again at the heart of it, with a rash challenge from Andy Rose bringing him down inside the penalty area. Griffiths stepped up, but Gillespie was equal to his spot kick, diving superbly to his left before then punching clear.

Motherwell emerged stronger in the second half and pushed back the Celtic tide.

An Allan Campbell shot straight at Gordon gave them hope, then Sammon saw a low shot smothered by Gordon.

The chance looked to have gone for Motherwell but, in the dying seconds, with Celtic clinging on, they struck to claim a precious point.

The ball broke to Johnson on the left edge of the box, and with a swipe of his left foot, his shot evaded Gordon’s grasp then hit the far post before ruffling the net.

Motherwell resilience to the fore – analysis

BBC Scotland’s Alasdair Lamont at Fir Park

Just as they did twice last season, Motherwell denied Celtic victory at Fir Park with a performance of guts and determination.

They refused to accept defeat and showed a resilience that had earned them a similar result against Rangers and an emphatic win over Aberdeen. Robinson has bemoaned his side’s inconsistency but they always turn up when the big teams come to Fir Park.

It looked like Celtic were on course to return to the top of the league and they played some good football in the first period, but after Griffiths missed the penalty they seldom tested Mark Gillespie.

Rodgers cut a frustrated figure at times on the touchline as his team failed to maintain the fluency they had in the early period and ultimately paid the price with Johnson’s late equaliser.

Live Text

Match ends, Motherwell 1, Celtic 1.

Second Half ends, Motherwell 1, Celtic 1.

Goal! Motherwell 1, Celtic 1. Danny Johnson (Motherwell) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by David Turnbull.

Foul by Conor Sammon (Motherwell).

Kieran Tierney (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Carl McHugh (Motherwell) has gone down, but that’s a dive.

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Scott Sinclair.

Attempt missed. Kieran Tierney (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left.

Foul by Andy Rose (Motherwell).

Ryan Christie (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Attempt saved. Curtis Main (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.

Substitution, Celtic. Tomas Rogic replaces Jonny Hayes.

Foul by Allan Campbell (Motherwell).

Kieran Tierney (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution, Motherwell. Curtis Main replaces Adam Livingstone.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Richard Tait.

Attempt missed. Danny Johnson (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.

Substitution, Celtic. Odsonne Edouard replaces Leigh Griffiths because of an injury.

Attempt missed. David Turnbull (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Ryan Christie.

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Cristian Gamboa.

Conor Sammon (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Cristian Gamboa (Celtic).

Foul by Adam Livingstone (Motherwell).

Jonny Hayes (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Liam Grimshaw (Motherwell).

Ryan Christie (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Tom Aldred (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Jonny Hayes (Celtic).

Attempt saved. Ryan Christie (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Attempt saved. Allan Campbell (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

Attempt missed. Jozo Simunovic (Celtic) header from very close range is just a bit too high following a corner.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Adam Livingstone.

Second Half begins Motherwell 0, Celtic 1.

Substitution, Celtic. Scott Sinclair replaces Olivier Ntcham.

First Half ends, Motherwell 0, Celtic 1.

David Turnbull (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Ryan Christie (Celtic).

Conor Sammon (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Jozo Simunovic (Celtic).