GLASGOW - Gary Hooper has scored a late winner after Fraser Forster saved a penalty as Celtic claimed a hard-fought 1-0 win over Motherwell to head into the Scottish Premier League's winter break with a nine-point lead at the top of the table.
Celtic had a second minute header from Georgios Samaras ruled out for offside and Darren Randolph superbly saved a Charlie Mulgrew free-kick as the home side laid siege to the Motherwell goal on Wednesday.
However, Well weathered the storm and Jamie Murphy, in his last game for the Fir Park side before his transfer to Sheffield United, twice missed chances to give his side the lead before the break.
The stage looked set for a dream end to Murphy's Motherwell career when he earned them a 76th minute penalty after being tripped by Kelvin Wilson in the box but Forster was the hero when he made a tremendous save to turn Tom Hately's spot-kick round the post.
Celtic took heart from the penalty save and Hooper handed them the three points in the 80th minute when he finished a move he had started by turning a low Samaras cross past Randolph.