Soccer

Celtic showed ‘incredible mentality’ in late Motherwell drama – Brendan Rodgers

Matt O’Riley and Celtic fans celebrate his last-gasp winner (Steve Welsh/PA)
Matt O’Riley and Celtic fans celebrate his last-gasp winner (Steve Welsh/PA) Matt O’Riley and Celtic fans celebrate his last-gasp winner (Steve Welsh/PA)

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers hailed his players’ composure and spirit following their dramatic late victory over Motherwell.

The cinch Premiership leaders looked to have won it when substitute Luis Palma whipped the ball just inside the far post to open the scoring in the 87th minute at Fir Park.

Motherwell levelled five minutes into stoppage time when Blair Spittal slotted home but Matt O’Riley converted Greg Taylor’s deep cross two minutes later to spark wild celebrations and seal a 2-1 win.

Rodgers said: “It was a great response by the players, incredible mentality. I said to them afterwards, this club’s history is built on many late goals, that’s what Celtic does, but you have to have that will and desire to keep going.

Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers Brendan Rodgers acknowledges the fans after the final whistle (Steve Welsh/PA)

“I thought we dominated the game. Credit to Motherwell because they were tight and compact. You are not going to have it all your own way so you have to be patient and work the ball at speed. Probably our only thing was lacking a wee bit of quality in and around the box.

“But once they equalised we stayed clam, kept working the ball and waiting for that moment. We didn’t start lumping it into the box. We worked our way up the pitch, one side to the other, and it was a great cross by Greg Taylor, who showed immense resilience to stay on because he has taken a bad whack on his calf.

“Matty finished and it was brilliant for the supporters, they are starting to see how this team will keep fighting right to the end.”

Motherwell have now lost by one goal against each of the top three in successive weeks and manager Stuart Kettlewell again felt they deserved more from the game.

Motherwell fans celebrate
Motherwell fans celebrate Motherwell fans celebrate their goal (Steve Welsh/PA)

“It’s probably as sore a defeat as I have had,” he said.

“We have had a real tough run of games, going to Ibrox and playing against a high-flying St Mirren and then Celtic. But all I can comment on is how my players are acquitting themselves and I hope you see how well they have played again.

“I accept at times Celtic dominate the ball and carve out probably more chances than there have been in the last two games we have had but nobody can deny there was a real identity to our team again.

“We created some real good chances ourselves and showed that character to get back in the game. It’s a bitter pill to swallow yet again.”

Celtic fans spilled on to the track after Palma’s goal with one or two bursting on to the pitch and Motherwell supporters responded by coming on to the park after their equaliser. Celtic’s winner sparked an even bigger invasion and missiles were exchanged between the two sets of fans.

Matt O'Riley
Matt O'Riley Matt O’Riley is hailed by fans (Steve Welsh/PA)

Kettlewell said: “I don’t want to see those scenes, nobody will, but I also think by the emotion of the game and Celtic knowing they were properly in one again, scoring so late, I understand the emotion of the football supporter.

“But that doesn’t vindicate the fact we have got fans streaming on to the park. It does a look a bit ugly.

“You are always concerned about your own players’ safety but Celtic supporters were on to cheer their goal and celebrate with their team so there was no situation where our players were accosted or anything.”

Rodgers added: “I saw people on the pitch and, listen, that is not what we would want. You understand a little bit the lateness of the goals and what that brings to it and you have to think of the context, but I didn’t see anything else.”