Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou felt conceding a “poor goal” to Motherwell knocked his players’ composure as their long winning run came to an end.
The cinch Premiership leaders were ahead at half-time thanks to Callum McGregor’s deflected strike but they left Greg Taylor on his own to deal with in-form Well striker Kevin van Veen 10 minutes into the second half and paid the price.
The Dutchman latched on to Callum Slattery’s ball forward and turned Taylor one way and another before slotting home his 24th goal of the season and his ninth in six matches.
Motherwell held out with substitute Oh Hyeon-gyu missing the best of Celtic’s chances as they dropped points at home for the first time this season.
Celtic moved 13 points clear of Rangers, who face Aberdeen away on Sunday, but their run of 17 consecutive victories came to an end eight days before they face their Glasgow rivals in the Scottish Cup semi-finals.
Postecoglou said: “It was a disappointing outcome. And the performance was not really at the levels we have shown before.
“We controlled the game pretty well for the most part. First half was fine, we scored our goal and we had chances to get a second and didn’t take our chances.
“We were in control and knew the game would kind of open up but we concede a really poor goal from our perspective which gives the opposition some encouragement.
“Then we lost our composure a little and got a bit desperate at times but having said that we created good chances and didn’t take them.
“When you set the standards we set you have just got to make sure you are doing everything within your control to maintain and reach those standards.
“It’s unlike us to concede such a poor goal and that seemed to filter into our play after that.
“We were trying to chase the game a little bit which we have been pretty good at not doing but it’s only natural that the guys are going to want to try and make amends and score a goal. I just thought we lacked a bit of composure to do that.”
Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell hailed his players’ discipline and Van Veen’s quality.
Kettlewell, who led Ross County to victory in his previous visit to Celtic Park in 2020, said: “I don’t want to celebrate a point but when you look at the nature of the game and gulf in finances between the clubs, it speaks volumes for my players. They were outstanding to a man.
“I’ve just told them the biggest thing is not having an ego, I really believe that. For us to set ourselves up to play the way we did, if one player has an ego, the whole thing falls down and Celtic win comfortably. That’s what pleased me most.”
He added: “It was about bravery because we stood up to them defensively. And it was about committing to attacks. Our game plan was to try and leave Kevin up there in a one-v-one situation.
“Our goal comes from that, it came up trumps for us. We know his quality but you need players to execute it.
“It was such a good goal. We gave him licence to be a bit detached from the rest of the team. I don’t normally do that but we know he carries a threat in those situations.
“He makes defenders feel comfortable but one moment of quality can get him into good areas. He still had masses of work to do to score.”