Strachan hails 'magnificent' Celtic

Celtic warmed up for their midweek UEFA Champions League date with Aalborg by beating Motherwell 4-2 today, but Rangers remained top of the Scottish Premier League with a 2-1 victory over Kilmarnock.

The game at Fir Park had looked over as a contest at half-time, with Celtic already 4-0 up thanks to goals by Shaun Maloney, Scott McDonald and a double from Georgios Samaras. Motherwell improved in the second-half, and pulled two goals back through John Sutton and David Clarkson.

But despite dominating possession after the break, the home side could not get back on level terms and their opponents took all three points. Gordon Strachan said the first 55 minutes of the match was Celtic at their best.

"That was as good as we have produced for a long time," said the Bhoys manager. "There was a great flow to the game. Everybody knew when the ball was getting passed and everybody was moving at the right time.

"I thought the football was absolutely magnificent. At the start of the second-half we could have wrapped it up really and there were a lot of good things to come out the game for us."

They were fast, they were inventive and we were out-powered and outclassed in every department
Motherwell manager Mark McGhee reflects on Celtic's performance at Fir Park.

Motherwell manager Mark McGhee praised his players' second-half performance, but admitted their guests had been too good for his side. "," said McGhee, a former Celtic player.

Early dominance
Celtic took the lead with just four minutes on the clock, when Scott Brown's pass across the face of goal found Maloney unmarked at the far post to side-foot the ball in. They doubled their lead just four minutes later when Samaras held off Motherwell defender Mark Reynolds to slide the ball under the advancing Graeme Smith.

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 Smith.

Samaras completed the first-half scoring on 41 minutes. McDonald neatly flicked the ball into his path, and he raced past the static Motherwell defence to finish low and hard past the helpless keeper.

Motherwell came out transformed in the second-half and pulled one back in the 54th minute, when 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.

At Ibrox, ten-man Rangers had a second-half double from Kris Boyd to thank for their win over Kilmarnock. Frazer Wright sent Killie into a first-half lead, but Boyd converted a penalty in the 58th minute then fired in the winner minutes later, before Sasa Papac saw red for his second bookable offence.

Identical results
In Saturday's other games, St Mirren came from behind to defeat Inverness Caledonian Thistle 2-1 away. Second-half goals from Billy Mehmet and Garry Brady cancelled out Adam Rooney's penalty.

A Steven Fletcher double gave Hibernian a 2-1 win over Dundee United at Easter Road, with Lee Wilkie scoring for the visitors, while Falkirk picked up their first points of the season with a 2-1 reverse of Hearts.

Elsewhere, Hamilton came from behind to defeat Aberdeen 2-1 at Pittodrie, with David Graham and James McCarthy scoring their goals after Gary McDonald has broken the deadlock.