Bhoys book place in final

Motherwell 1 Celtic 2

Motherwell 1 Celtic 2

Shaun Maloney rifled home a controversial late winner to break Motherwell hearts and put Celtic into the CIS Insurance Cup final.

Maciej Zurawski had saved the blushes of club and country team-mate Artur Boruc with a first-half equaliser.

Boruc, the Polish number one, made a complete mess of a cross to allow Richie Foran to head the Steelmen into a surprise lead.

But livewire Maloney put Zurawski in for his goal before having the final say by blasting John Hartson’s indirect free-kick through a ruck of Motherwell players, after referee Craig Thomson had adjudged Graeme Smith to have collected Martyn Corrigan’s poor back-pass.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan drafted Stephen McManus and Mo Camara into his back four in a desperate bid to resolve their dire defensive problems which had seen them concede 16 goals and fail to keep one clean sheet in their previous 10 games.

But it was the usually reliable Boruc whose calamitous mistake in the 12th minute gifted Motherwell a shock lead.

Corrigan played the ball back for Kevin McBride to lob the ball towards the edge of the six-yard box.

But the Polish goalkeeper looked as edgy as those around him as he made a poor effort to get to the ball, allowing Foran to leap above him and head into the empty net.

Celtic were in a state of turmoil and it could have got even worse in the 15th minute.

Scott McDonald headed the ball down in the area and Stanislav Varga made a clumsy challenge which some referees would have penalised – but Craig Thomson gave nothing.

Celtic replied with Camara picking out Hartson at the far post but his downward header was easily saved by Graeme Smith, who came in for Colin Meldrum in the only change from the draw at Dunfermline.

Official Thomson risked the wrath of the Motherwell fans in the 19th minute for awarding Shunsuke Nakamura a free-kick on the edge of the box, after a challenge from Jim Hamilton, but Maloney curled a right-foot effort over the angle.

Celtic remained a bag of nerves at the back and kept looking to Strachan on the sidelines for guidance.

But Maloney produced that inspiration with a brilliant pass for Maciej Zurawski’s 29th-minute equaliser.

The youngster picked the ball up in his own half and ran at the Motherwell defence.

Maloney then looked up and flicked a fine reverse pass into the path of the Pole, who managed to force the ball past the advancing Smith and into the net, despite the goalkeeper getting a foot to it.

Boruc went some way to making amends for his earlier gaffe with a fine save to stop McDonald in the 36th minute.

The Australian, who scored the goals to snatch the title from Celtic on the final day of last season, got behind Varga but the goalkeeper rushed off his line to steer his shot wide.

But Motherwell were the more dangerous team and Boruc made another great save from McDonald’s header moments later after Foran had crashed a volley just over the crossbar from inside the area.

Strachan clearly told his players that attack was the best form of defence at the break with Nakamura testing Smith with a swerving right-footed effort the goalkeeper did well to hold.

Virgo picked out Hartson at the far post in the 55th minute but the Welshman planted his header well wide.

The game lost its spark and Strachan brought Alan Thompson on in the 66th minute for the disappointing Nakamura.

Hamilton scored a thumping goal against Celtic in a 3-1 defeat recently but saw his 70th-minute long-range shot on this occasion held by Boruc.

The Motherwell fans were shouting for a penalty moments later after McDonald went down under the challenge of Camara, who was then replaced by former Motherwell man Stephen Pearson.

The Scotland international had a mixed reception from both sets of fans as he too slotted into an unaccustomed full-back role.

Hartson was the first man to be booked in the 79th minute and deservedly so after challenging Smith after collecting the ball.

Corrigan quickly followed for taking Zurawski clean out on the touchline.

Boruc made a great save to his left to keep out Brian Kerr’s free-kick as the game apparently headed towards extra time.

But Corrigan put his side in all sorts of trouble with four minutes of normal time left as Smith had to save his backpass and Maloney made them pay with a late winner.

With the Motherwell players sprinting off their goalline, the youngster blasted Hartson’s free-kick into the net from close range to put Celtic into the final against Dunfermline.

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