Rangers edge resilient Motherwell in Fir Park thriller to keep pace with Celtic
Well striker Kevin van Veen tapped in after three minutes but Gers skipper James Tavernier levelled midway through the first half with a curling free-kick from 20 yards.
Forward Fashion Sakala headed Rangers in front just after the break before Well substitute Bevis Mugabi equalised in the 59th minute only for Todd Cantwell to restore the Light Blues' lead with his first Gers goal since joining from Norwich in January. Gers substitute Malik Tillman grabbed the fourth before Well's Callum Slattery was sent off in the 76th minute for picking up a second yellow card in an exhausting game that took part against a background of protest from both sets of supporters. The away fans held up banners with the faces of Rangers sporting director Ross Wilson and managing director Stewart Robertson on them, crossed out with a red stripe, saying 'Time for Change', a continuation of a theme among a section of the Gers support. A section of the Well fans were late in taking to their seats - although it appeared they were watching the game from the back of the John Hunter stand - as a protest, claiming they had faced "concerning decisions" which "impacted on our ability to give the team the backing they deserve", and their banners read: 'Heavy Hands- Empty Stands'. Rangers fans had more to complain about when Motherwell stormed into the lead through their in-form Dutch striker. Midfielder Sean Goss sent Max Johnston scarpering down the right in acres of space and his delivery across the box was converted by Van Veen, with a VAR check confirming the home side's lead. It was a far from storming response from Rangers but, after Callum Slattery was booked by referee Nick Walsh for hauling down Rangers midfielder John Lundstram just outside the box, their resistance was broken. Tavernier opted to curl the ball into the near post and Well keeper and captain Liam Kelly got across his goal too late to stop the ball beating him. Rangers still did not hit their heights. In the 34th minute Lundstram's half-volley from outside the box rebounded off Kelly's chest and Sakala turned the rebound past the post. However, the Zambian made no mistake just after the restart when Tavernier planted a cross from the right on to his head as he rose above Motherwell defender Paul McGinn at the back post to nod in. Light Blues attacker Antonio Colak fired wide moments later after he was left with only Kelly to beat but still there was no sense that the visitors had complete control and after making a mess of trying to clear a James Furlong corner, Mugabi, on for McGinn, poked the ball into the net from three yards. More drama soon followed as Van Veen missed the target after going round Gers keeper Allan McGregor before the visitors raced up the pitch. After efforts by Ryan Kent, Colak and Tavernier in quick succession were all blocked, Cantwell fired high into the net - with VAR ruling out the suggestion of a possible offside. Alfredo Morelos and Tillman replaced Colak and Sakala and they both combined before the Bayern Munich loanee thumped a shot high past Kelly from 14 yards before taking the acclaim of the travelling support behind the goal. Slattery was sent packing after fending off Cantwell with a forearm which saw the Rangers midfielder go to ground and, in the end, the visitors finished in control.
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