Celtic warmed up for their midweek Champions League match against Aalborg with a 4-2 win over Motherwell at Fir Park. The game had looked over as a contest at half-time with Celtic racing into a 4-0 lead with goals from Shaun Maloney, Scott McDonald and a double from Georgios Samaras as the Motherwell defence had a nightmare.
Motherwell, whose own European adventure starts on Thursday against Nancy in the UEFA Cup, improved vastly in the second-half and pulled two back through John Sutton and David Clarkson. Yet despite dominating possession in the second period the home side could not get back on level terms as Celtic took all three points from the Scottish Premier League clash.
Celtic started the match with a frantic pace and took the lead with just four minutes on the clock. Scott Brown drove into the Motherwell box and his pass across the face of the goal found Maloney unmarked at the far post to sidefoot it in. The Hoops doubled their lead just four minutes later through Samaras. Strike partner McDonald slipped a pass to him and the ball nearly got caught under the Greek striker's studs, but he recovered to hold off Motherwell defender Mark Reynolds and slide the ball under the advancing Graeme Smith.
Brown nearly made it three in the 17th minute. McDonald, with his back to goal, held the ball up and played the ball across the edge of the box to Brown whose low drive flashed just past the post. In the 21st minute Clarkson played Sutton in but the striker's effort flew across the face of goal with no takers.
Three and easy
Former Motherwell player McDonald made it three with 24 minutes gone. He turned his marker Reynolds in the box from Mark Wilson's throw-in and chipped the ball over the keeper to send the Celtic fans wild. Clarkson thought he had pulled one back for Motherwell in the 30th minute when his overhead kick finish from a Stephen Hughes chip over the Celtic defence flew past Boruc but the linesman had already flagged for offside.
Maloney, who had been terrorising the Motherwell defence with his pace, saw his free-kick from the edge of the box rattle the crossbar with Smith beaten in the 37th minute.
Samaras completed the first-half rout after 41 minutes. McDonald neatly flicked the ball into the path of the former Man City player and he raced past the static Motherwell defence to finish low and hard past the helpless keeper.
Home side renewed
Motherwell came out transformed in the second-half and pulled one back in the 54th minute. Sutton rifled in a volley from 16 yards out for his third goal in as many games since joining the club. Clarkson got Well's second just two minutes later. The forward was played into the box by Steven McGarry and he slipped the ball under Boruc under pressure from two Celtic defenders.
The home side grew in confidence and the chances kept coming. First Sutton's shot cannoned off the Celtic defence for a corner before Chris Porter headed straight at Boruc when he was found unmarked in the box after 63 minutes. Boruc had to be at his best in the 78th minute to produce a one-handed save from a Paul Quinn header following a corner. And just a minute later Porter fired wide of the post under pressure from two Celtic defenders with Clarkson screaming for a pass.
But despite the nervy finish Celtic held on to claim victory before the visit of Danish champions at Parkhead on Wednesday.