THERE’S no better nights than under the Fir Park lights, said a banner unveiled by the Motherwell fans before this game. Unfortunately for them, it seems the Celtic players agree.

Two predatory goals from Liel Abada, a brilliant third from Reo Hatate and a Kyogo tap-in gave the League Cup holders easy passage into the semi-finals of this year’s tournament in Lanarkshire, at a ground where they have now hit 10 goals without reply in the three matches since Ange Postecoglou took over.

For all that Hatate’s finish was the one that had the Celtic punters purring, equally as impressive is the scoring record of Abada, who has followed up the 15 goals he hit in his debut season with eight already this term from just 16 appearances.

All in all, it was a result that was only in doubt up until around the interval, and even then, only due to some more slack finishing from Celtic, and Kyogo in particular. The visitors also gave away a couple of opportunities in that first half with some errant passing at the back, as they are also prone to do from time to time, but Motherwell were toothless.

Once Abada had hit his and Celtic’s second, the only question was how many goals Celtic fancied. And in the end, Motherwell were perhaps a little fortunate it was only four.

There were changes for both sides from the weekend, Motherwell’s caused by a welcome return from injury for a few regulars and Celtic’s inspired more by a need for rotation.

Rickie Lamie somewhat surprisingly lined up for the hosts after being forced off in Sunday’s defeat to Rangers with a back problem, while Blair Spittal shook off an injury and Connor Shields came back in after suspension for Josh Morris and Ross Tierney.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou made five changes from Saturday’s thumping of Hibernian, with Ben Seigrist given a chance in goal for the second time in this competition, while Greg Taylor, Josip Juranovic, Abada and Kyogo also came in.

The slick passing of Celtic in forward areas was causing problems from the off, with Motherwell’s players doing well just to avoid a bout of dizziness in the opening stages. They almost came undone as a brilliant reverse pass from Kyogo put Abada in down the right, but he overcooked the cross and Sead Haksabanovic’s retrieval at the back stick only led to a blocked shot.

Motherwell tried to counter punch, and Matt O’Riley did well to block Stuart McKinstry’s shot after an enterprising run from the youngster. The attack almost led to Motherwell falling behind though, and it should have.

Abada picked up the loose ball and suddenly Celtic had numbers haring forward. He put the ball down the line where Hatate pulled back for Kyogo, but the striker somehow sliced his effort wide from just a few yards out in front of goal.

The forward was a damn sight more unfortunate minutes later as he came within a whisker of atoning for his miss, picking the ball up 25 yards from goal and unleashing a dipping, swerving effort that crashed off the underside of the bar and back out off the goalline. Abada arrived on the scene, but couldn’t get any purchase on his header and Liam Kelly recovered to smother.

Aaron Mooy then brought a save out of Kelly as Motherwell held on for dear life, but as long as Celtic were failing to apply the finishing touch, the hosts had a chance. And McKinstry had a great one as Moritz Jenz was careless at the back to give the ball to Shields, who chased it to the by-line and fired across goal where his opposite winger was in acres of space. He chose to take it first time, succeeding only in blazing high over the bar.

The break of the ball then had Kyogo in again at the other end, but Kelly was smartly off his line to block to safety.

Just as Motherwell thought they had weathered the storm though, a moment of slackness creaked the door ajar for Celtic just before the break, and they picked their way through that opening superbly to open the scoring.

A poor header from Paul McGinn in his own area gifted the ball to Taylor, and suddenly a one-two with Haksabanovic released the left-back in on Kelly. He had the vision to cleverly cut the ball back away from the Motherwell keeper, where Abada was the hungriest, bursting a gut to get to the ball and tap home.

Motherwell needed a response after the break and they came out with intent, Matthew Penney forcing a decent tip wide from Siegrist in the opening seconds of the half.

Celtic slowly started to take control again though, and their pressure soon caused the Motherwell backline to buckle once more.

A series of shots rained down on Kelly’s goal, the first from Abada that the keeper pushed wide, then another from Josip Juranovic that the he pushed out, but only as far as Abada. The winger coolly controlled his volleyed finish into the corner of the net, and that was game, set and match.

Moments later, Celtic really put the tin lid on it, Hatate rubbing salt into Motherwell’s wounds with an outrageous finish to grab the visitor’s third.

Juranovic kept the ball alive on the byline as the Motherwell defence dithered, but Kelly looked to have closed down the angle as the ball fell to Hatate. The midfielder had other ideas, rolling the sole of his right foot over the ball to shift it and instantly passing it home with his left.

Motherwell just wanted to be put out of their misery by now, but instead, they conspired to add to it.

A terrible mix-up between Sean Goss and Bevis Mugabi under pressure from Daizen Maeda saw the ball break for Abada, and the only surprise was that his finish cannoned off the inside of the post. Kyogo was on hand though to tap home his first goal in eight games since scoring against this same opponent back at the start of the month.

A nightmare in the end then, under the lights, for the beleaguered hosts.