Motherwell 0-2 Celtic: Hooper hot streak continues to send visitors top of SPL table

The Glasgow giants climbed to the league summit with an easy victory over the previous leaders, as the England international hopeful continued his scoring exploits

A first-half strike by Gary Hooper and an own by Adam Cummins saw Celtic take top spot in the SPL with victory over previous leaders Motherwell.

In a day which went from bad to worse for Cummins, the defender also got himself sent off for bringing down Kris Commons inside the box, from which Scott Brown missed the resulting penalty.

Motherwell made three changes from their League Cup exit to Rangers in midweek, with Simon Ramsden, Zaine Francis-Angol and Jamie Murphy all coming into the starting line-up for Fraser Kerr, Stevie Hammell and Henrik Ojamaa.

With Celtic preparing for their Champions League tie away to Spartak Moscow on Tuesday; Neil Lennon brought back Georgios Samaras to the bench, along with Joe Ledley and Beram Kayal, while Efe Ambrose made his first league start for the Hoops.

The visitors had the best of the early going, with Hooper, coming off of his four-goal haul against Raith Rovers in the League Cup going close after being put through on goal by James Forrest, while Commons also had an effort which was deflected over.

On the half-hour mark the visitors went into the lead as Hooper got onto the end of a long ball from Commons, beating the Motherwell rear-guard and slotting the ball beyond the helpless Randolph in the Motherwell goal.

Five minutes later Lennon’s side extended their lead as Brown got onto the ball on the left wing after beating Tom Hateley and his cross into the box that was searching out Hooper, was diverted into his own goal by Cummins inside his own six yard box.

With ten minutes gone in the second half Celtic were given a golden opportunity to add to their lead as Commons got onto a long ball and before he could strike at goal Cummins brought him down and referee Iain Brines had no option but to send the centre half off, but Scott Brown’s poor spot-kick was easily saved by Randolph and the rebound went into the Celtic fans behind the goal.

Celtic continued to pile on the pressure and, after a superb passing move that saw the ball eventually land at the feet of Emilio Izaguirre on the left wing, the full back curled the ball into the path of Brown, but his effort was saved by Randolph.

The visitors continued to look to add to their lead, with Izaguirre, Victor Wanyama, Forrest and substitute Miku all having chances to extend the advantage as they claimed top spot in the SPL, but none of them could find a way past Randolph, but the Hoops departed Fir Park with a comfortable victory.