Motherwell 1-1 Celtic: Hoops stung by late Danny Johnson strike

It won't take Brendan Rodgers too long to conclude how his Celtic side somehow contrived to throw away two points here and with it, the place at the top of the Premiership table they had so briefly occupied.
Leading through what's now become Ryan Christie's customary goal, the visitors had Motherwell exactly where they wanted them. The only issue was if Stephen Robinson's side could make it to half-time still alive.
When Christie won a penalty five minutes from the break, Leigh Griffiths spotted the ball with the confidence of a player who'd spent the week perfecting his celebration.
Whether through complacency or just poor technique, the striker allowed Motherwell keeper Mark Gillespie to save comfortably to his left.
It would have huge implications for the outcome of the match.
Struggling to finish Motherwell off in the second period, Rodgers' side walked a tightrope.
And when Cristian Gamboa failed to deal with a bouncing ball on the edge of his own box, Danny Johnson smashed the ball beyond Craig Gordon to claim an unlikely point for the Steelmen.
For Celtic, it was a textbook lesson in what happens when you fail to take your chances.
You had to feel for Christie in the final reckoning. In his private moments, he must wonder if this all isn't just some figment of his fevered imagination.
The midfielder's renaissance with Celtic this season has been so dramatic and pronounced that, increasingly, it would surely be more at home in the pages of a comic book.
He struck his sixth goal of a glorious run to set his side on their way here but was let down by too many around him.
After the exertions of Sunday, Rodgers was always expected to shuffle his pack here but perhaps not to quite the extent that he did.
Craig Gordon and Jozo Simunovic were stick-ons to come back into his side and this was always a fixture which suited Scott Brown, Olivier Ntcham and Griffiths.
The inclusions of Jonny Hayes and Gamboa did raise eyebrows, though. The Dubliner hadn't been seen since starting in the defeat at Tynecastle on August 11 while, despite some game-time in Europe, Gamboa hadn't tasted Premiership action this term.
Motherwell manager Robinson also rang the changes after the loss at Livingston. Carl McHugh came back from suspension together with Liam Donnelly, Conor Sammon and Peter Hartley although the latter's evening lasted just six minutes.
Deposed from their place at the top of the league on Sunday, it was impossible to overstate the importance of this game for Celtic.
Playing initially through a fog of smoke emanating from pyrotechnics, Griffiths' hold-up play fashioned the first chance for Callum McGregor. The midfielder's first-time shot from the edge of the box was straight at Gillespie.
Had it not been for bad luck in the early exchanges, Motherwell would have had none at all.
Having seen Hartley hobble off to be replaced by Andy Rose before the game had even settled, Robinson was left to ponder a replacement for Donnelly after he too signalled he was in bother. Before Adam Livingstone could enter the field, his side were a goal down.
It was beautifully created by Kieran Tierney, the full-back's weighted pass being invitingly threaded through a side momentarily depleted in numbers.
Christie ran on to it with complete certainty as to how the sequence of play was going to end. Taking one touch to steady himself, he exquisitely poked the ball into the far corner with the outside of his right boot.
Motherwell had set up bravely from the off and, evidently, there was now no sense in playing a containing game. Turnbull, their brightest light in recent weeks, might well have got them level after Gamboa had been dispossessed but his drive was always rising.
Rodgers' wholesale changes infused the side with zest. They would have been two up inside half an hour had Filip Benkovic not tugged Tom Aldred's shirt before sweetly guiding a volley into the far corner.
Livingstone's first involvement of note was a rather crude foul on Gamboa on the halfway line which saw Kevin Clancy dip into his pocket for the first time. Danny Johnson joined him for a high boot which caught Simunovic's head with Allan Campbell completing an unwanted hat-trick, also for scything down Gamboa.
The ill-discipline spoke to Motherwell's growing frustration with the way the game was going. By half-time, though, Celtic shared that emotion.
Playing in an unfamiliar position on the left, Ntcham's pass around the corner saw Christie nip in ahead of Rose. The substitute was much too eager to win the ball back and bundled his opponent to the ground.
Griffiths failed to do the necessary from the spot, though. Gillespie only had two take one step to left to beat away the initial effort then clawed the rebound to safety.
Rose redeemed himself by hacking a Hayes' backheel off the line in the opening seconds of the second period.
Campbell worked Gordon from the edge of the box then saw a meaty dipping volley deflected round the post by Benkovic.
Scott Sinclair, who replaced Ntcham at the break, has his every touch jeered by the home fans on account of a soft penalty won and converted here last year but he offered more than the Frenchman.
With Tierney straining every sinew to overlap him, though, as Motherwell floundered, the Englishman's weight of pass cost Celtic the chance to close the game out.
Griffiths retired with 24 minutes remaining to reflect on his profligacy with Odsonne Edouard immediately bulldozing his way through a couple of challenges.
But Celtic made hard work of getting over the line. And when Edouard shortchanged Brown with a routine pass 40 yards from his own goal, Sammon drifted past Benkovic to force Gordon into a smart save to his left.
It kept Motherwell believing. And when Gamboa failed to deal with a routine bouncing ball with three minutes remaining, Johnson didn't have to be asked twice. His strike fizzed across goal to beat Gordon as his far post.
All of a sudden, it felt like a victory for Motherwell and a defeat for the champions.

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