MATT O’RILEY celebrated his contract extension with Celtic in the finest style possible as he popped up with a 97th minute winner to break Motherwell’s hearts at Fir Park.

Luis Palma had climbed off the bench to breach the hosts’ stubborn resilience three minutes from the end of normal time, but there was still time for Blair Spittal to hit back and draw Motherwell level.

Just as it looked as though the champions would have to settle for a point though, O’Riley slammed home from close range at the back post to spark scenes of wild celebration that spilled out of the away end and onto the pitch.

Here are the talking points from a slow burner that became a barnstormer in Lanarkshire…


Time and time again during Brendan Rodgers’ first spell in charge of Celtic they would pull results out of the fire, but rarely can they have done it in such dramatic fashion as they did here. Well, apart from when Tom Rogic scored a similarly late sickener at this venue a few years back.

When Palma shaped a cross into the area that found its way into the net from the edge of the Motherwell right late on he appeared to have broken the hearts of the spirited Steelmen, but the hosts roared back and looked to have secured what they would have felt was a deserved share of the spoils as Spittal wriggled clear in the Celtic area and found the bottom corner of Scott Bain’s net deep into stoppage time.

The wild celebrations hadn’t even subsided though - the Motherwell players losing their heads rather and their discipline for perhaps the first time across the 97 minutes - when Greg Taylor swung a cross deep into the area to find O’Riley arriving to cushion a sidefoot volley into the roof of the net.

Like Anthony Ralston’s late goal in Dingwall during Ange Postecoglou’s first season in charge of Celtic, this felt like a potentially huge moment in the context of the season, and it may well be one that is looked back upon as such come the end of the campaign.


Nobody wants to take the passion out of Scottish football, and if fans can’t lose their heads a little when a game concludes as this one did, then we’d be as well turning out the lights. However, the celebrations that greeted the late goals for both sides threatened to teeter over into something altogether more dangerous.

A section of the Celtic support responded to Callum McGregor’s celebrations after Palma’s goal by joining him on the trackside, goading the Motherwell ‘ultras’ that are housed in the corner of the John Hunter Stand.

Those home supporters responded in kind when Spittal scored in stoppage time, spilling out onto the field and prematurely celebrating in the faces of the rival fans. When Celtic pulled a winner out of the hat, there was only going to be one outcome, and the surge of fans from the away end overwhelmed the trackside security.

Thankfully, the over exuberance didn’t become violent, and the fans were eventually herded back into their rightful areas, but neither set of supporters covered themselves in glory.


Whether Bain ever ends up as a Celtic number one appears unlikely, but he showed here he can be relied upon to step up with a couple of decent stops.

First, he denied Harry Paton after Spittal had caught Celtic napping with a quick free kick, sticking out his right foot to deflect his effort clear.

Then, in the second period, he produced a similar stop from Spittal as the midfielder tried to slip the ball under him and into the corner.

There was little he could do about Spittal’s goal, and all in all, he can be well pleased with his display after so long on the sidelines.


Amid the euphoria of the manner of Celtic’s win, the contribution of Yang could easily – and understandably - be forgotten.

It is early days for the South Korean winger at Celtic, and he has shown up well in flashes since his arrival at the club. He will be disappointed with his performance here though as he failed to make the most of the opportunity handed to him by his manager.

Much of the credit for that has to go to impressive Motherwell wing back Brodie Spencer, who followed up his eye-catching display at Ibrox last weekend with another good showing.

He played Yang well, forcing him inside as often as possible, but even while giving due praise to Spencer, the lack of quality in Yang’s play must also be acknowledged.

He did put in one early cross that Dan Casey just flicked to safety from the waiting Kyogo Furuhashi, but produced little to speak of thereafter despite seeing plenty of the ball in promising positions.

One moment just before the interval where he stumbled over his own feet and allowed the ball to run out of play rather summed up his day, and it was no surprise to see him kept inside at the interval as Rodgers sent on James Forrest.


That will be easier said than done after such a sickening punch to the gut, but the hosts have plenty to be optimistic about despite this being their third consecutive defeat.

Stuart Kettlewell has his team superbly well drilled, and their organisation and application of their manager’s gameplan was absolutely spot on.

They were happy enough to cede territory to Celtic, particularly in wide areas, and challenged the visitors to break them down. And they struggled to do so until the dying stages.

It is no shame to lose to Celtic, particularly in this manner, and the Motherwell support can surely look forward to another good season under Kettlewell’s guidance.