Motherwell 2-4 Rangers: Visitors fight back in thrilling six-goal thriller
Rangers manager Michael Beale extended his unbeaten start to the Scottish Premiership to 14 games after his side fought back to claim victory in a thrilling six-goal thriller at Motherwell.
The visitors trailed early on a Kevin van Veen strike, but James Tavernier’s free-kick equalized before the captain delivered for Fashion Sakala at the net.
Motherwell responded through Bevis Mugabi but two goals in six minutes from Todd Cantwell and Malik Tillman took the game away from the hosts, who had Callum Slattery fired.
Victory for Beale’s side cuts the gap on leaders Celtic to six points, but Ange Postecoglou’s men can restore their nine-point advantage with a home win against Hibernian later on Saturday.
The loss to Motherwell, who remains ninth and is now winless in 55 top-flight games against Rangers, ends Stuart Kettlewell’s four-game unbeaten start as manager.
A James McFadden goal in 2002 earned the Fir Park club their last Premiership victory in that match.
And it was current talisman Van Veen who had the home fans dreaming as the Dutchman ran into Max Johnston’s cross and then swept away past a roving supporter protesting the Ibrox council pre-game.
Rangers struggled in their quest for an equalizer as rigid Motherwell made life difficult in their 5-4-1 form, but Slattery’s savage challenge to John Lundstram at the edge of the box led Tavernier to bend a free-kick on the wall, beating Liam Kelly far too easily.
Tavernier then turned provider a minute after the break for Sakala to go home – the Zambian’s sixth goal in six games against Motherwell.
Out of nowhere, Kettlewell’s side equalized when Rangers failed to clear their lines, allowing Mugabi to drive the ball down the slide.
But Beale’s men regained their lead four minutes later when Cantwell slotted in from close range – his first goal for his new club – before substitute Tillman drilled in a quick fourth shot with a fine strike from the edge of the box.
Motherwell was reduced to 10 men for the final 14 minutes when Slattery received a second yellow for a flailing arm on Cantwell, but the hosts were spared a heavier defeat as Rangers squandered further chances to add from brilliance to victory.
Player of the Match – Todd Cantwell
Rangers react after making life difficult again – analysis
Beale will leave Fir Park with positives as his side continue to regain momentum on the pitch after the disappointing Viaplay Cup final last month.
The Rangers boss has won all of his first eight Premiership away games, becoming the first manager to do so in more than 12 years, but he will be pushing for more from his players after another performance which has fluctuated throughout the 90 minutes.
The visitors struggled to break down their hosts in the first half, with Tavernier’s 23rd-minute equalizer coming from their first shot on target.
The character of the Ibrox side to respond is to be praised, but they have made games unnecessarily difficult by losing the opening goal on too many occasions.
Rangers’ directness in the first half was in part due to Motherwell’s resolute form, but perhaps if Kettelwell’s men were more adventurous they could have taken advantage of their goalscoring advantage.
The Fir Park boss’s flexibility in how he has approached each of his five games in charge is to be commended, however. Despite the loss, Motherwell fans will not have given up hope in their team’s bid for survival.
After the international break, both sides return to the Premiership on Saturday April 1 as Motherwell travel to Hibernian, while Rangers host Dundee United (both 3pm BST).
- 16McGinnReplaced bymugabiTo 53′minutes
- 52CaseyBooked 20 mins away
- 8gratingBooked at 76 mins
- 27KidReplaced byTierneyTo 71′minutes
- 18CorneliusReplaced bymandronTo 71′minutes
- 9van VeenReplaced byBlaneyTo 84′minutes
- 1Mc Gregor
- 3YilmazReplaced byArfieldTo 71′minutes
- 13CantwellReplaced byKamaraTo 78′minutes
- 4LundstramReplaced bySudtarTo 78′minutes
- 8JackBooked at 45 mins
- 9ColakReplaced byMorelosTo 65′minutes
- 30sakalaReplaced bytillmanTo 65′minutes
- Nick Walsh
Game ends, Motherwell 2, Rangers 4.
Second Half ends, Motherwell 2, Rangers 4.
Failed attempt. James Tavernier (Rangers) right footed shot from the center of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Malik Tillman.
Failed attempt. Ryan Kent (Rangers) right footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses the top right corner. Assisted by Glen Kamara.
Failed attempt. James Tavernier (Rangers) header from the center of the box is close, but misses the top left corner. Assisted by Malik Tillman.
Attempt blocked. Scott Arfield (Rangers) left footed shot from the center of the box is blocked. Assisted by Malik Tillman.
Attempt blocked. Ryan Jack (Rangers) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Ryan Kent.
Failed attempt. Alfredo Morelos (Rangers) header from the center of the box is close, but misses the top left corner. Assisted by Ryan Kent with a cross.
Failed attempt. Alfredo Morelos (Rangers) header from close range misses to the left following a corner kick.
Corner, Rangers. Corner conceded by Bevis Mugabi.
Attempt blocked. Alfredo Morelos (Rangers) right footed shot from the center of the box is blocked. Assisted by John Souttar.
Replacement, Motherwell. Shane Blaney replaces Kevin van Veen.
Failed attempt. Scott Arfield (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Past assisted by Ryan Jack.
Failed attempt. James Tavernier (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high from a direct free kick.
Ryan Kent (Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Blair Spittal (Motherwell).
Replacement, Rangers. John Souttar replaces John Lundstram.
Replacement, Rangers. Glen Kamara replaces Todd Cantwell.
Second yellow card for Callum Slattery (Motherwell) for dangerous play.
Todd Cantwell (Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
player of the match
squad number27player nameKid
squad number9player namevan Veen
squad number22player nameJohnston
squad number52player nameCasey
squad number18player nameCornelius
squad number7player namespit
squad number1player nameKelly
squad number24player nameFurlong
squad number66player nameButcher
squad number5player namemugabi
squad number16player nameMcGinn
squad number8player namegrating
squad number20player nameBlaney
squad number21player namemandron
squad number26player nameTierney
squad number71player nametillman
squad number20player nameMorelos
squad number37player nameArfield
squad number16player nameSudtar
squad number18player nameKamara
squad number13player nameCantwell
squad number2player nameinnkeeper
squad number14player nameKent
squad number8player nameJack
squad number3player nameYilmaz
squad number9player nameColak
squad number30player namesakala
squad number26player nameDavies
squad number4player nameLundstram
squad number6player nameGoldson
squad number1player nameMc Gregor