Paddy’s joy at vital win for Celtic

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Paddy McCOURT admitted the importance of Celtic’s 2-1 win over Motherwell at Fir Park which keeps their Clydesdale Bank Premier League title hopes alive going into the international break.

Despite a fine 3-1 Europa League win over Rennes at Parkhead on Thursday night, there was still huge pressure on Neil Lennon and his side going into yesterday’s lunchtime kick-off.

The visitors started the game 15 points behind SPL leaders Rangers, albeit the trip to Lanarkshire was one of the two games in hand they had over the Ibrox men.

After Anthony Stokes had quickly cancelled out Michael Higdon’s 11th-minute opener there was little between the teams but, with 11 minutes remaining, Gary Hooper tapped in the winner after fellow substitute McCourt, on for Georgios Samaras, had worked some of his magic before playing in Stokes for the assist.

It was the third time in four games that Celtic had to come from behind to win a game and afterwards the Northern Ireland international said: “It shows that there is a bit of character and it was great to get the goal in the later stages.

“It was a very important win for everyone and it gives us a couple of weeks now.

“There is no getting away from it, I am sure everyone will say it, it has been a poor start so hopefully with these last two games we have turned a bit of a corner and we can go and put a string of results together.

“It is still going to be hard but to get the two wins going into the break will give us time to get a few players back.

“There are a lot of lads who have played a lot of games and who need a wee bit of a rest.

“As I said, we will get a few bodies back and hopefully we can close the gap back a bit.”

Well slipped back into third place behind Celtic on goal difference and manager Stuart McCall seemed almost relieved when he said: “Now all the talk of splitting the Old Firm will disappear. We can now concentrate on our aim of this season and that will stay between the players and me and the staff. But I think we proved why we are up there.”