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Rangers extend lead to 16 points after comeback against Motherwell

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Rangers manager Steven Gerrard celebrates
Steven Gerrard was delighted by his side’s comeback as Stephen Robinson was left disappointed

Rangers came from behind against Motherwell to secure a win that stretches their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to 16 points.

Cedric Itten struck in between a Kemar Roofe double in the final 17 minutes to ensure Rangers avoided a second defeat within four days.

Rangers struggled to break down the visitors after they had taken the lead through Callum Lang on six minutes.

But their comeback consigned Motherwell to a fourth consecutive defeat.

Stephen Robinson’s side remain fifth, 10 points behind Aberdeen, despite a run of six games without a win and will view this is an opportunity missed.

Rangers benefit from Hibernian’s draw with Dundee United and Celtic’s involvement in Sunday’s Scottish Cup final to take further command at the top.

Steven Gerrard’s side had not lost all season until their shock midweek League Cup quarter-final loss at St Mirren and, for much of this game, it looked like Rangers defeats were about to arrive like buses.

Buses was the correct description for the way the Motherwell defence was parked around their own box as they repelled and frustrated the increasingly desperate home side after Lang’s early strike.

Rangers looked like they were determined to sweep aside the memory of that midweek disappointment as restored striker Jermain Defoe tested goalkeeper Jordan Archer shortly after kick-off.

However, as Dundee United had shown despite defeat last week, the Ibrox side still struggle to break down a side determined to pack their defence. As St Mirren showed in midweek, they have suddenly showed a fragility at the back.

Motherwell scored in their first attack as Declan Gallagher held the ball up on the edge of Rangers penalty box and fed Scotland colleague Stephen O’Donnell, whose low cross found Lang ghosting in unmarked at the back post for his fifth goal of the season.

Ryan Kent headed wastefully wide before the break and Steven Davis had a goal disallowed for offside as Rangers looked to be running out of time and ideas to break down opponents that gave them some nervous moments on the break.

However, Kent made up for his miss by poking the ball into the path of Roofe to score from close range and signal a late Rangers rescue act.

Itten headed in at the back post after a corner evaded everyone else in a packed six-yard box before Roofe supplied yet another close-range finish as the ball bobbled the packed area.

Man of the match – Kemar Roofe

Kemar Roofe and Cedric Itten celebrate
Kemar Roofe (centre) and Cedric Itten were the difference between victory and another shock result

What did we learn?

While Rangers end the day with their lead enhanced, the way they laboured to subdue a struggling Motherwell will add to the question marks raised by their League Cup exit.

However, Gerrard will point to their determination to come from behind as proof that they can avoid the collapse in form they have endured in recent seasons once the pressure builds in the second half of the campaign.

Motherwell will take heart from the way they were able to limit the league leaders to so few clear-cut chances until that late collapse – and their ability to worry Rangers on the break.

There will, though, be concerns about that poor run of results, which would have them toiling in the table had they not been awarded two wins because of their opponents’ Covid-19 rule breaches.

What did they say?

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard: “It’s a big result, I’m very satisfied. It’s a big three points for us, especially on the back of a tough few days mentally.

“We found a response and a reaction. This was a big test for us and we’ve passed it with flying colours. The team did show its bottle.”

Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson: “The boys gave everything but the decision making in the box for the goals wasn’t good enough.

“What this does is give me hope – we’re on a sticky run but there are boys fighting for the cause and I’m confident we’ll pick up results in the coming weeks against teams with a lot less to offer than Rangers.”

What’s next?

Rangers continue their pursuit of the title in Perth on Wednesday, when they face St Johnstone (18:00 GMT), while Motherwell host fourth-top Aberdeen (18:15).

Player of the match

LangCallum Lang

Rangers

  1. Squad number11Player nameItten

  2. Squad number15Player nameZungu

  3. Squad number7Player nameHagi

  4. Squad number25Player nameRoofe

  5. Squad number17Player nameAribo

  6. Squad number9Player nameDefoe

  7. Squad number14Player nameKent

  8. Squad number10Player nameDavis

  9. Squad number2Player nameTavernier

  10. Squad number6Player nameGoldson

  11. Squad number31Player nameBarisic

  12. Squad number1Player nameMcGregor

  13. Squad number18Player nameKamara

  14. Squad number37Player nameArfield

  15. Squad number5Player nameHelander

Motherwell

  1. Squad number29Player nameLang

  2. Squad number7Player nameO’Hara

  3. Squad number31Player nameGallagher

  4. Squad number33Player nameO’Donnell

  5. Squad number6Player nameCampbell

  6. Squad number32Player nameWatt

  7. Squad number8Player nameCrawford

  8. Squad number2Player nameGrimshaw

  9. Squad number13Player nameArcher

  10. Squad number16Player nameMugabi

  11. Squad number4Player nameLamie

  12. Squad number5Player nameMcGinley

  13. Squad number9Player nameWhite

  14. Squad number17Player nameSeedorf

  15. Squad number19Player namePolworth

  16. Squad number44Player nameCole

Line-ups

Rangers

  • 1McGregor
  • 2Tavernier
  • 6Goldson
  • 5Helander
  • 31Barisic
  • 37ArfieldSubstituted forHagiat 62′minutes
  • 10Davis
  • 18KamaraSubstituted forAriboat 45′minutes
  • 25Roofe
  • 9DefoeSubstituted forIttenat 71′minutes
  • 14KentSubstituted forZunguat 83′minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Bassey
  • 7Hagi
  • 11Itten
  • 15Zungu
  • 16Patterson
  • 17Aribo
  • 21Barker
  • 24Stewart
  • 33McLaughlin

Motherwell

  • 13ArcherBooked at 82mins
  • 33O’Donnell
  • 16Mugabi
  • 31Gallagher
  • 4LamieBooked at 77minsSubstituted forSeedorfat 85′minutes
  • 2GrimshawSubstituted forPolworthat 85′minutes
  • 6Campbell
  • 8CrawfordSubstituted forColeat 85′minutes
  • 7O’Hara
  • 32WattSubstituted forMcGinleyat 65′minutes
  • 29LangSubstituted forWhiteat 76′minutes

Substitutes

  • 5McGinley
  • 9White
  • 15Maguire
  • 17Seedorf
  • 19Polworth
  • 26Cornelius
  • 27Johnston
  • 34Chapman
  • 44Cole

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