Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic side have gone 65 matches unbeaten in all domestic competitions after lifting this season’s BetFred Cup at Hampden Park – after defeating Motherwell 2-0.
The first-half was a scrappy affair with neither team creating too many chances. Stuart Armstrong had a shot blocked on 10 minutes before the biggest talking point of the first-half.
Two potential red-card incidents occurred within a matter of minutes. Firstly, Cedric Kipre dived in at the edge of the area to deny Moussa Dembele but the defender caught his fellow Frenchman on the follow through after initially playing the ball. No foul or card was given by referee Craig Thomson.
Then, Dembele was to go in hard on Motherwell captain Carl McHugh with a similar tackle to that of Kipre. Thomson this time saw the incident as a foul and booked the striker for the infringement.
Ryan Bowman’s header was wide of target before Lustig saw an effort blocked out. Richard Tait fired wide of target while Dembele forced the first save of the match for either goalkeeper with a back-post header which was comfortably saved by Trevor Carson.
Louis Moult forced Craig Gordon into action with a shot from edge of the area before Chris Cadden couldn’t find the target. Armstrong had another effort but the midfielder was unable to trouble Carson as the sides went in at the break all-square.
Celtic were to get the early goal they craved in the second-half to open up the match. James Forrest received the ball just inside the area before angling an effort past Carson and into the bottom corner. The wingers left-footed curling effort sent Hampden rocking as the Hoops supporters celebrated the opener.
Well boss Stephen Robinson was quick to change things as he brought on attacking midfielder Craig Tanner for Liam Grimshaw as the Lanarkshire club tried to hit-back instantly.
Gordon was then the hero as he made a magnificent one-armed stop to deny Moult who’s header was goal-bound and almost saw the Steelmen get an immediate response.
Carl McHugh conceded a corner which Dembele really should’ve done better from, with the former Fulham striker heading wide from 8 yards out, despite being free inside the area.
The striker wasn’t to be denied for long, however, after Thomson pointed to the spot. Scott Sinclair drove into the area from the left and despite minimal contact coming in from Kipre, the penalty was awarded while the defender also saw red to compound matters further for Robinson’s side.
Dembele slotted the ball home to double Celtic’s lead; the ball being sent straight down the middle. With the game now seemingly away from Motherwell, expectations were placed on Rogers’ side to rack up their scoreline.
Armstrong then had two quick-fire efforts which Carson saved before the Well brought on youngster Allan Campbell for striker Ryan Bowman, as they looked to shore up the midfield. Leigh Griffiths would also come on during this stoppage, replacing Dembele in the 64th minute.
Kieran Tierney had an ambitious effort fly high and wide but the Celts were rarely troubling Carson. This potentially encouraged Robinson who brought on winger Elliott Frear for New Zealander Andy Rose.
Callum McGregor was next to try kill the game off for sure but he couldn’t find the target before Griffiths was sent in the clear. The Scotland striker couldn’t take advantage of the chance though as Carson came out on top once more in the Motherwell goal.
Patrick Roberts came on for BT Sport Man of the Match James Forrest before Moult saw another header gathered by Gordon – this time from a Tanner cross from a free-kick on the Steelmen’s right.
Celtic had plenty efforts as the game came to a close. Armstrong and McGregor again tried their luck while Sinclair fired wide. Griffiths hit the post and Roberts saw his close-range effort saved by Carson.
Roberts fired over while Griffiths had another chance, this time from a free-kick which Carson was up to again. Tom Rogic can on for McGregor with only injury time left but he still had enough minutes on the park to force a final save out of Carson. Louis Moult hit the post from a free-kick with the last touch of the game as Celtic claimed their fourth domestic trophy in a row under Rogers.
It was a convincing win in the end for last season’s treble winning Scottish champions. Motherwell battled hard and were unlucky to concede a penalty and get a red-card, which ultimately killed the contest. Robinson’s men don’t need to wait for long to try to make amends for today’s defeat as the two sides will meet again on Wednesday evening at Fir Park in the Scottish Premiership, while also coming up against Rogers’ side again on Saturday at Celtic Park.
FULL-TIME: Motherwell 0-2 Celtic
1. Trevor Carson
2. Richard Tait
21. Cedric Kipre
6. Peter Hartley
18. Charles Dunne
4. Liam Grimshaw (Craig Tanner 51’)
8. Carl McHugh (Captain)
15. Andy Rose (Elliott Frear 73’)
7. Chris Cadden
12. Ryan Bowman (Allan Campbell 64’)
9. Louis Moult
13. Russell Griffiths (GK)
3. Steven Hammell
11. Elliott Frear
17. Alex Fisher
20. Deimantas Petravicius
22. Allan Campbell
27. Craig Tanner
1. Craig Gordon
23. Mikael Lustig
5. Jozo Simunovic
20. Dedryck Boyata
63. Kieran Tierney
8. Scott Brown (Captain)
14. Stuart Armstrong
42. Callum McGregor (Tom Rogic 90’)
49. James Forrest (Patrick Roberts 78’)
10. Moussa Dembele (Leigh Griffiths 64’)
24. Dorus De Vries (GK)
7. Patrick Roberts
9. Leigh Griffiths
18. Tom Rogic
21. Oliver Ntcham
28. Erik Sviatchenko
35. Kristoffer Ajer
Referee: Craig Thomson