Scottish Premier League

Commons continues form in easy win

Kris Commons scored twice in Celtic's victory over Motherwell.
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Kris Commons' impressive goalscoring form continued with a double in Celtic's 3-0 Scottish Premiership win over Motherwell at Parkhead, where Hoops striker Anthony Stokes was sent off late in the game for a lunge on Well captain Keith Lasley.

The 30-year-old midfielder notched his 18th goal of the season with a shot in the fifth minute before driving in a penalty before the interval.

Celtic had thrashed the Steelmen 5-0 when the two teams met at Fir Park in December and a similar outcome looked on the cards.

However, the visitors responded to the challenge in a more positive way in the second half although former Parkhead captain Stephen McManus deflected a James Forrest cross into his own net in the 68th minute as Celtic extended their unbeaten league run to 21 games.

There was time for referee Bobby Madden to send Stokes on the long walk after the Irishman took Lasley out from behind - the only real disappointment for Celtic manager Neil Lennon, who witnessed a convincing victory over a side which traveled to Glasgow on the back of a six-game winning run.

There was a minute's applause before kick-off in tribute to former Celtic player Bobby Collins, who passed away last week, and the 'wee barra' would have approved of the way the home side began the match.

Commons posted his intentions as early as the second minute when he forced a save from Gunnar Neilsen with a 25-yard free-kick.

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The Well goalkeeper was soon under pressure again when the Commons sent Stokes racing through the visiting defense.

His angled drive was parried by Neilsen but the former Nottingham Forest and Derby striker was first to the loose ball to knock it into the net.

Moments later, with the signs already pointing towards another rout of the Lanarkshire side, midfielder Charlie Mulgrew missed a great cross from left-back Emilio Izaguirre.

Attempts on goal from Commons and Stokes, twice, followed before a deflected drive from Motherwell's attacking midfielder James McFadden ended in the arms of Hoops keeper Fraser Forster.

Motherwell steadied themselves as the first half unfolded but in the 28th minute the home side came close again when Forrest drove into the Motherwell box past defender Shaun Hutchinson and shot wide of the far post.

Seconds later at the other end, Well midfielder Lionel Ainsworth almost equalized with a similar effort, referee Madden judging that Forster got a touch to the ball to the anger of the home fans but the corner came to nothing.

Mulgrew then headed a Joe Ledley cross into the arms of Neilsen from close range before Parkhead defender Virgil van Dijk finished a move he started by blasting the ball over the bar from 16 yards.

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In the 39th minute, however, the points were all but assured when Neilsen fouled Stokes as the Irishman rounded him inside the box and picked up a booking before Commons fired the spot-kick high past him for number two.

Thereafter the one-time Scotland player - he called time on his international career last May - went looking for his hat-trick.

Subsequent efforts either side of the break were less impressive before Motherwell edged back into the game.

Forster was almost fooled by a long-distance drive from Iain Vigurs in the 53rd minute before the England cap made a point-blank save with his legs from McFadden, as the visitors tried to get back into the game.

Stokes clipped the top of the bar with a curling shot from the edge of the box in the 58th minute to show the home side were far from finished in front of goal, while Commons had yet another drive fly wide of the target.

The hapless McManus then redirected Forrest's cross past Neilsen to extinguish any faint hopes of a comeback and to earn the cheers of the Hoops support.

Motherwell kept going after Stokes was sent packing but it was to no avail as Celtic continued their march towards the title.

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