Elyounoussi hits hat-trick as 'more motivated' Celtic respond

Glasgow (AFP) –

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Celtic bounced back from another European humiliation to beat Motherwell 4-1 on Sunday as Mohamed Elyounoussi answered his critics with a hat-trick.

The Norwegian international faced a backlash from ex-Celtic players for being seen on his mobile phone after being substituted in Thursday's 4-1 home defeat to Sparta Prague in the Europa League.

Another defeat would have placed manager Neil Lennon's position into doubt during the upcoming international break with Rangers starting the day nine points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

But Celtic closed that gap to six points and the defending champions also have a game in hand as they aim to win a historic 10th straight title.

"I thought we were really well motivated, we looked far more like ourselves," said Lennon. "The players responded brilliantly, it's a fantastic response and win.

"They know they can play a lot better than they've showed. There was better body language about us today, better hunger. That's what we are looking for, that's a really good barometer for us now."

Elyounoussi settled any nerves from the visitors early on as he pounced after Albian Ajeti's strike came back off the post.

Tom Rogic then teed up the on-loan Southampton winger for his second from close range.

Celtic's defence has been the source of most of Lennon's problems in recent weeks and a frailty from set-pieces was again exposed when Declan Gallagher's header halved Motherwell's deficit 18 minutes from time.

However, Elyounoussi quickly responded with a towering header of his own at the back post to restore Celtic's two-goal cushion.

"That was a big misunderstanding, I let my feet do the talking," said Elyounoussi on the controversy over the phone.

"It was a good day. We got goals, we showed character, responded from Thursday's game and got the points."

France under-21 stars Odsonne Edouard and Olivier Ntcham have also failed to match their standards of previous seasons so far this campaign.

But they came off the bench to combine for Celtic's fourth as Edouard teed up Ntcham to side-foot into the bottom corner.