Celtic recovered from the loss of an early goal to thrash Motherwell and consolidate their rampant start to the Scottish Premiership season.

They had been held on their last three visits to Fir Park and had to survive a torrid start, with Scott Bain letting Liam Donnelly’s shot squirm in.

But Kristoffer Ajer quickly levelled and Leigh Griffiths’ free-kick nudged Celtic ahead at the break. Goals from James Forrest, Odsonne Edouard and Ryan Christie then eased the visitors clear before a late Donnelly consolation.

Motherwell, who unsettled Celtic early with their high-energy pressing game, faded though and Celtic were rampant in the second half as they took their goal tally to 12 after the first two league fixtures.


‘Celtic will do this to many teams this season’

After their seven-goal deconstruction of St Johnstone last week, this was supposed to be a game of a very different kind for the champions. Stephen Robinson’s team, a group that had begun the season well and who would have come into this in great heart, had caused them problems in their recent visits to Fir Park.

It ended in a drubbing, but Celtic are going to inflict this kind of punishment on many teams this season. They were ruthless again. They didn’t quite hit the free-flowing creative heights of last weekend, but they still managed a handful of goals. Ominous. Seriously ominous.

The weird thing is that Motherwell had the better of it early on. In the opening exchanges, they were not just excellent, they were in the lead. Donnelly, Allan Campbell and Liam Polworth were dominant in the middle of the pitch. Celtic, with Christopher Jullien making his first appearance in domestic football and Boli Bolingoli continuing at left-back, looked vulnerable until they all found their rhythm and the goals started to come in waves.

Liam Donnelly has scored six goals in five games for Motherwell

The one that put Motherwell ahead began with a crossfield ball from Polworth, which was nodded down by Declan Gallagher to Donnelly. His volley was well-hit, but Scott Bain’s attempt to stop it was poor. It went in at his near post. Donnelly, an attacking force until Celtic took hold of things, took his tally to five goals in five games this season with that strike. His sixth came at the end. What an asset this converted defender will be for Robinson this season.

Motherwell had to consolidate there and then. They had to frustrate Celtic and give them few chances and few reasons to believe. Easier said than done, of course. Their resistance lasted barely two minutes when Forrest played in Kristoffer Ajer, the stand-in right-back arriving like a gazelle to plant his shot past Mark Gillespie.

Lennon’s team motored on from there. Just before the break, from a free-kick 22 yards out, Gillespie left a gap to his left and practically invited Griffiths to bang it in there, which he duly did. Some Motherwell fans complained about the awarding of the free-kick in the first place, but their ire shouldn’t have been solely reserved for referee Nick Walsh.

Celtic scored again just after the hour-mark when Ntcham, Lewis Morgan and Bolingoli helped to get it to Forrest, who shifted feet and then struck his shot in off the post – Celtic’s 10th league goal in little over a game and a half.

Their 11th, and 12th, arrived soon after; Edouard with a class finish pinged into the corner past Gillespie. It was all a touch cruel on Motherwell and crueller still when Edouard won a deserved penalty after Donnelly took him down. Christie, who had come on for Forrest, did what every last soul in Fir Park knew he would do and executed with no fuss. Five goals to add to the seven of last week.

Donnelly smashed in a second for Motherwell, but rarely will a player feel so glum despite playing so well and scoring twice against Celtic. Lennon’s team have sent out another forceful message. They won the treble again last season. They look even better this season.