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Celtic stretch lead with Motherwell win

SoccerNews in Scottish Premier League 3 May 2008

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Celtic moved eight points clear at the top of the Scottish Premier League with a hard-fought 2-1 victory away to Motherwell on Saturday.

The Parkhead side were stretched to the limit by the hosts, who took the lead on the hour mark through Chris Porter.

However, Celtic equalised almost immediately through Australian striker Scott McDonald and Greek international Georgios Samaras came off the substitute's bench to score a vital winner.

With only two games remaining Gordon Strachan's side now have an eight point advantage over Rangers – although the Ibrox side, who are away to Hibernian on Sunday, have four games-in-hand.

Motherwell's Keith Lasley had the first effort on goal when his left-foot shot from the edge of the penalty box was deflected narrowly wide, with Celtic's Polish goalkeeper Artur Boruc rooted to the spot.

Celtic struggled to test the home side's rookie goalkeeper Luke Daniels in the opening stages.

The visitor's finally threatened in the 19th minute, with German full-back Andreas Hinkel's fierce right-foot drive from 25-yards whistling past the post.

Motherwell were doing most of the pressing without being able to create many clear cut chances.

Stephen Craigan's header, from a Lasley corner, was just too high to trouble Boruc in the 35th minute.

But two minutes later the Polish goalkeeper was forced into meaningful action for the first time in the match, diving to his left to saved Marc Fitzpatrick's low shot from 18-yards.

Motherwell began the second half in a similarly positive manner and Boruc had to stretch to save David Clarkson's shot from a tight angle in the 50th minute.

On the hour mark the game burst into action.

First Porter raced on to Brian McLean's cross from the right and when the ball bounced on the six-yard line he nodded the ball into the corner of the net.

However, with the Motherwell fans still celebrating that goal, Celtic drew level.

Shunsuke Nakamura collected the ball on the corner of the penalty area and crossed to the back post where McDonald leapt to head home against his former side in the 62nd minute.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan made a double switch in the 65th minute, with Nakamura and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink making way for Samaras and Scott Brown.

In the 74th minute Brown should have tested the Motherwell goalkeeper, when Gary Caldwell's long ball forward deceived the home side's defence, but the former Hibs midfielder blasted over from 16-yards.

But in the 79th minute the second Celtic substitute headed his side in front, stooping at the back post to head Barry Robson's corner into the net.

Motherwell were unfortunate to find themselves behind and pushed forward in search of an equaliser.

Steven Hammell fired a powerful drive across the face of goal in the 88th minute which was just wide.

And in the final minute Stephen Craigan almost snatched a point for the Fir Park side when his downward header was brilliantly pushed past the post by Boruc.

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