IF any Motherwell fans left this match after Celtic hit a second goal in the 84th minute, they would have missed a hell of a match. More happened in a frenetic end-to-end finale than had transpired in the rest of the game.

As the dust settled, it was Celtic who emerged victorious, as they almost always do in this fixture. Motherwell haven’t beaten these opponents since 2015, but this was among their more creditable attempts at laying a glove on them during that torrid run.

Just as the poor dugs of Lanarkshire thought the trauma of firework night was over, the Celtic support rocked into town creating a mighty racket, with pyrotechnics and a massive banner proclaiming ‘Our light shines on’, perhaps in reference to the club’s 135th birthday, which passed earlier in the week.

Just as they have for the vast majority of that long existence, they watched their side leave with the spoils, as Kyogo’s early goal and Maeda’s clincher was enough to finally shake off a dogged home outfit, despite Ross Tierney’s late retort.

Ange Postecoglou’s men were far from their often scintillating best, but they have developed a rather nice habit of still winning even when they dip below their peak level, as they certainly did here.

Leagues can’t be won on guile alone though, and it was their gutsy streak that ultimately saw them through, and saw them maintain their handsome advantage at the top of the Premiership.

Despite the fireworks in the away end, it was Motherwell who almost lit the blue-touch paper early on, and they should have had the lead after capitalising on some early Celtic slackness.

Reo Hatate waited for the ball to arrive at his feet, allowing the impressive Stephen O’Donnell to nick in and pinch it before playing Kevin van Veen in. The striker rounded Joe Hart, but took himself a little wide, and could only smash his attempt off the outside of the post.

As Celtic know only too well from their Champions League experience, if you fail to take your chance against quality opposition you will invariably end up being punished, and Motherwell found that out too in short order.

Jota played in Matt O’Riley with a clever pass, Callum Slattery doing well to come back and take the ball of his toe in the Motherwell area. Just when he thought he was safe though, O’Riley came nipping back at him, and his slide tackle won the ball back cleanly. He immediately got his head up and slid the ball across the six-yard line where Kyogo was waiting to tap home.

Celtic cranked it up after the opener, with Jota firing over and Bevis Mugabi getting a last-gasp block on Aaron Mooy’s effort from inside the area. The defender injured his knee in the process, and had to be replace by Sondre Solholm.

Motherwell steadied the ship a little after that, but Celtic still carried an air of menace, and Jota stung the palms of Liam Kelly next, the keeper recovering to smother the spilled ball just as Kyogo was closing in.

There was the odd moment of slackness from the visitors though to give the hosts at least a sliver of hope, and Slattery tried to catch Hart out from his own half after a slack pass from Greg Taylor, but could only punt it wide of the target.

There was a moment of controversy as we approached half-time, as O’Donnell made a great tackle to deny Hatate as he looked to burst in on goal. As the pair untangled themselves in the area, the Motherwell players claimed that Hatate had swiped the legs of his opponent, but after a VAR check referee Willie Collum waved away the home protests.

Van Veen had been limping a little at points in the first half, and he was kept inside at the interval by Stevie Hammell, Connor Shields the man to come on and lead the line for the hosts.

And in fairness, the forward brought a renewed energy to the Motherwell attack, with the Steelmen at last showing a little mettle and trying to take the game to a visiting side who were still clearly superior, even if nowhere near their sparkling best.

Their quality was there for all to see though as they cut Motherwell apart, Kyogo playing a sumptuous ball through for Jota to race in and dink over Kelly and into the net. It was almost a shame from a neutral point of view to see a goal of such beauty being wiped out by an offside flag, but the Portuguese winger was adjudged to have gone a little early.

That kept Motherwell in it with a puncher’s chance, though substitute Giorgos Giakoumakis should have extinguished that hope as he failed to sort his feet out to divert home a cross that Rickie Lamie had managed to get a toe to, sending it over from close range.

Motherwell’s great hope looked to be their own sub in Louis Moult, and the Fir Park talisman glanced a header inches over the bar after a whipped Matt Penney cross to give Celtic a scare.

Just as the home fans were getting excited though, their team shot themselves in the foot to allow Celtic to kill them off. Or so they thought.

Penney attempted a quick throw-in, but he somehow hit Sead Haksabanovic, who was standing in front of him, and the ball was turned over. David Turnbull immediately floated a ball over the top for Maeda to burst in on Kelly, and he blasted through his legs and in.

Immediately, remarkably, Motherwell hit back, as Sean Goss spotted the run of Tierney from a free-kick and clipped it into his path for the attacker to volley home. Game on once more.

Celtic managed to see it out though, and the scenes of wild celebrations at the end said it all about how big a victory this was considered to be within the champions’ ranks.