Celtic dropped points for the third time this season, as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Motherwell at Celtic Park.

The hosts came into this game knowing that a win could take them 11 points clear of Rangers, who would face off against Aberdeen at Pittodrie the following day. However, this chance was not taken as they produced a below-par performance against Stuart Kettlewell’s struggling Motherwell side.

In a stop-start affair that produced few clean-cut chances, Celtic were awarded a penalty following Bevis Mugabi’s foul on Oh Hyeon-gyu. After scoring against Aberdeen, Luis Palma stepped up, though his penalty was well-saved by Liam Kelly. Another penalty was to come Celtic’s way, as substitute Mikey Johnston was wrestled to the ground by Calum Butcher. Former Motherwell player David Turnbull stepped up and scored his spot-kick, but a late Jonathan Obika header would draw the two sides level. Despite pushing for a winner, Celtic would fail to take three points at home for the second time this season.

Brendan Rodgers made just the one change from the side that beat Aberdeen 6-0, as Anthony Ralston replaced Alistair Johnston at right-back, who returned late in the week from international duty. Palma was in a similar scenario, yet he started proceedings. Odin Thiago Holm was given a second consecutive start to showcase his abilities, whilst Yang Hyun-jun was also preferred ahead of James Forrest and Johnston. It was a first squad appearance for Marco Tilio, as the Australian continues his transition into Scottish football.

Here, The Celtic Way rounds up the best StatsBomb data from the game to give you a match report like no other…

xG trendline

Going by the race chart above, Celtic had a 95 per cent chance of winning this game with the chances they had, with the result on the day only registering a four per cent rate of transpiring. Indeed, it took the visitors 35 minutes to register any shot whatsoever. Despite this, Celtic’s chances in this period were largely speculative, with Matt O’Riley registering the highest xG from his shot outside of the box in the eighth minute with 0.12. Celtic were not firing on all cylinders whatsoever in this match, with the low xG totals for players such as Kyogo Furuhashi, Callum McGregor and Palma illustrating this, as six shots garnered only 0.26 in accumulative xG before the 35th minute.

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In the final 10 minutes of the half, Motherwell would rally and in turn have all of the goalmouth action. Their best chance came to Dan Casey, who dragged his longshot just wide, with this chance scoring an xG of 0.10. Stephen O’Donnell, Harry Paton and Blair Spittal contributed the other half-chances for Motherwell, though these all were single-digit xG opportunities, accumulating to just 0.15. These would be the only chances to fall their way before Obika’s equaliser in added time.

Following the restart, Celtic’s South Korean contingent would have good opportunities to make the breakthrough in the shape of Yang and Oh. Both headers (0.14 and 0.25 xG) would miss the target, though three minutes later the home side were given a lifeline…

After a good save from Kelly to deny an own goal from Mugabi, Oh would get in front of the defender and take the contact from the outstretched man. Following a lengthy VAR check, the penalty was given, and Palma stepped up. Despite getting a decent connection on the strike, Kelly guessed the right way and saved the visitors from going behind. Palma’s 0.78 in xG rose to 0.88 in PSxG, indicating that the strike was good, but that Kelly’s save was even better.

With no goals in the game thus far, Celtic began to turn the screw in terms of chances created. Oh would have his next shot blocked, whilst substitute Turnbull’s chance was easily saved by Kelly. Greg Taylor’s shot was also stopped by the body of a Motherwell defender, in what was an impressive performance at the back from the Steelmen (0.14 combined xG). Not for the first time, Yang would miss a glorious chance to open the scoring with his head, before Liam Scales would do the same, with both of their headers going just wide (0.20 xG). Scales’ chance was a big one, though the game would be stopped after this opportunity as VAR had spotted a potential foul in the box…

They were right, as Butcher had pulled substitute Johnston to the ground before he got on the end of Scales’ header. Another lengthy review ensued, though again Celtic were awarded a penalty, their second of the day. Turnbull stepped up and made no mistake, his 0.78 rising to 0.88 once again as Kelly was sent the wrong way. Celtic were ahead, though their game management would cost them so dearly in the end.

The visitors pushed forward - throwing caution to the wind – and gained a corner just before 10 minutes of injury time was confirmed by the fourth official. Spittal delivered into the box, with the ball evading everyone until it came Obika’s way. A mismatch in marking, as the Motherwell forward dwarfed Celtic’s left-back in height and stature, which led to the striker having all his own way in the box. He would launch a sneaky header off the back of his head, which would bamboozle both the defence and Joe Hart, finding its way into the back of the Englishman’s net. 0.16 in xG, that figure would skyrocket to 0.84 thanks to the connection the striker got, as well as his positioning and the positioning of Hart in between the sticks. Both Taylor and Hart will not want to see this goal again, that is for sure.

Following this concession, Celtic would get four more chances, with two of them falling to Johnston on the wing. The better of the two was a header, which he got all wrong in execution, as he failed to post any sort of PSxG (0.21 xG). His second chance went well wide – as did Scales and O’Riley’s late opportunities – as the game ended 1-1 (0.18 xG combined).

Despite their turgid display, Celtic had 21 total shots in this game, though only four of them managed to force a save out of Kelly. Their cumulative xG for this match was 3.08, though this may be inflated due to the fact that penalties will always be high-xG opportunities. Still, looking at the shot map shows that Celtic had more than enough opportunities to put this game to bed, though their wastefulness cost them in the end. One positive, however, may be the fact that they managed to get a majority of chances inside the Motherwell box, though only two chances forced a save out of Kelly outside of the two penalties.

In the Premiership, Celtic take on average a total of 20.21, showing that they were performing in terms of shots and chance opportunities, though they did not have their shooting boots on whatsoever on the day.

For the visitors, they had six shots, with two on target at a cumulative xG of 0.41. Their shot map shows that only two of their six chances were inside the box, with their goal being the closest to Hart’s goal through Obika. Motherwell take around 10.21 shots a game in the league, though they will not care about making up their average as they earned a precious point on their travels at the toughest away ground in the Premiership.

O’Riley and Taylor were Celtic’s top shooters on the day, with the highest total being three for both. Somewhat alarmingly, both Kyogo and Oh did not make it onto the top five, highlighting a potential problem with service and delivery into Celtic’s strikers. Yang, Scales and Palma all had two shots.

For Motherwell, Spittal had two shots, the highest in the game for the visitors. It was Obika who made the difference, with his one shot scoring 0.16, which turned out to be the equalising goal.

Possession, passing and positions

In his post-match comments, Rodgers talked about the mammoth possession stats, saying there were “no excuses” not to win the game with how dominant they were on the ball. He was quite right too, as Celtic had a massive 81 per cent of the ball to Motherwell’s 19, with the home side completing 86 per cent of their 791 passes in the game to the visitors’ 54 per cent (100 out of 185).

The passing network gives a rough idea of where the majority of the game was played and who was the most involved. Remember that the warmer the colour, the more influential the player was in the game, and the thicker the passing lines, the more passes between the players.

StatsBomb measures pass contributions in on-ball value (often referred to as OBV, a term breakdown of which can be read here).

The passing networks for both teams in both the first and second half indicate how the game changed in terms of what transpired. In the opening half, you can see that Palma was the most effective on the ball, as displayed by his red colouring on the network diagram. However, it was only Cameron Carter-Vickers and Ralston who also posted warm OBV numbers, as Kyogo cut an isolated figure up front for his team. Callum Slattery was the best OBV performer in the first half for his team, with only goalkeeper Kelly joining him in terms of notable OBV accumulation for the first 45 minutes.

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Following the restart, there were far more standout performers in this metric, as is clearly shown in the network graph. Palma continued his effectiveness, whilst Ralston and Taylor joined him in scoring a red OBV marking. Scales and Carter-Vickers were also positive, though Oh and Kyogo were both isolated once again, as shown by their blue colouring. This is an area that needs to be rectified and improved upon in terms of delivery and service to the forwards, as they are not affecting the game with postings like this.

Looking at Motherwell’s network, only Theo Blair posted an above-average OBV, though he was isolated on the left-hand side judging by the position of his teammates.

Looking statistically, Palma’s OBV is the highest recorded this season for a Celtic player, with his 27 passes accumulating a massive 1.02 in total. For comparison, Celtic’s next highest was Ralston with 0.33 for 111 passes, followed by Taylor’s 0.21. Unfortunately, there were four players in the negatives in terms of OBV, with Yang being the worst offender at -0.19 for 47 passes. O’Riley had -0.17, whilst Holm had -0.14 and Kyogo scored -0.03.

Slattery and Kelly were Motherwell’s top OBV earners with 0.12 for 10 and five passes respectively. They had seven negative OBV postings, with Spittal’s 10 passes amounting to -0.10 in OBV.

Celtic’s full backs were the top passers for their team in the game, as Ralston and Taylor both had three each. Turnbull had two despite coming on as a substitute, with Johnston and McGregor each contributing one.

Motherwell had just one key pass in the game, which was Spittal’s corner to Obika for the equaliser. It would prove to be an important one, as the visitors gained a point due to this delivery into the box.

Pressing and defending

Celtic initialised 101 pressures to Motherwell’s 144, though they regained the ball 17 times to their opponent’s 14. O’Riley was Celtic’s top contributor in this metric with 16 pressures, with Scales and Taylor the next best with 11 and 10 respectively. Motherwell’s Brodie Spencer was the top pressure player on the day, though, as he managed 24, with Slattery and Mika Biereth contributing 19 and 18 just behind him. O’Riley was top for Celtic in counterpressures too, as the midfielder managed eight, with Biereth just behind him for Motherwell with seven.

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Sticking with the midfielder, O’Riley had the top combined tackles and interceptions for his team with six. Scales had eight clearances and six duel wins in the air, with Carter-Vickers posting five each in the same categories.

O’Donnell had the most tackles and interceptions in the game with seven, though Butcher had six of his own. Shane Blaney and Mugabi had 13 clearances each in their team’s strong defensive showing, whilst Obika won four of his aerial duels.