Celtic returned to the top of the Scottish Premiership after a 3-0 win over Motherwell at Celtic Park, as Rangers were held to a 0-0 draw by Hibernian.
Goals from Anthony Ralston, Scott Sinclair and Mikey Johnstone in the first half sealed all three points for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
The game was also skipper Scott Brown’s 500th match for Celtic.
Questions were asked before the match kicked off into why Anthony Ralston was starting the game at right back in place of Kristoffer Ajer or Gamboa – but the youngster silenced his critics soon enough.
Ralston burst down the right wing and fired a cross low into the box, but that was cleared by the Motherwell rearguard.
James Forrest and Olivier Ntcham linked up soon after, but the Frenchman’s cut back was easily dealt with by the visitors.
Motherwell looked to stubbornly resist any Celtic attack by playing every player behind the box, inviting Celtic to attack.
Ralston again proved to be a thorn in the side of Motherwell with a number of crosses into the Motherwell penalty box, but the opening goal still failed to materialise.
Ntcham and then Scott Sinclair in the space of two minutes were denied in quick succession, but on the half-hour mark, the deadlock was finally broken.
Odsonne Edouard picked the ball up in the final third, before playing a perfect pass in behind the Motherwell defence to Ralston who fired home to send the Celtic fans delirious.
Just two minutes later and it was 2-0 to Celtic. Sinclair, Ntcham and Forrest linked up before the latter drove into the Motherwell box only to see Charles Dunne bring him down. Bobby Madden pointed to the spot and Sinclair despatched the penalty.
On 38 minutes, Celtic’s sole striker Edouard limped off injured and replaced by youngster Mikey Johnstone.
With the half-time whistle fast approaching, substitute Mikey Johnstone scored a superb goal to make it 3-0. Forrest laid off the ball on the edge of the box before Johnstone skipped past a number of challenges and struck the ball into the roof of the net.
Despite dominating possession in the second half, Celtic failed to add to their score but saw out the game quite comfortably – although Motherwell looked to leave an impression on a number of Celtic players through a plethora of late tackles which went unpunished by Madden.
It was a well-deserved three points and saw them leapfrog Rangers into top-spot with a game in hand.
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) December 19, 2018
CELTIC: Gordon; Ralston, Simunovic, Benkovic, Izaguirre; Forrest, McGregor, Brown, Sinclair (Morgan 66), Ntcham; Edouard (Johnston 39).
Subs not used: Bain, Gamboa, Ajer, Hayes, Mulumbu
MOTHERWELL: Gillespie, Tait, McHugh, Aldred, Bowman, Rose, Bigrimana, Dunne (Main 87), Sammon, Rodriguez-Gorrin
Subs not used: Ferguson, Sinclair, Campbell, Mbulu, Johnson, Turnbull