A RARE goal from Bert Konterman - in fact, his first ever in Light Blue - and a rare headed goal from Barry Ferguson ensured Rangers recorded an extremely valuable, if somewhat unconvincing, victory over a stubborn Motherwell side at Ibrox this afternoon.
The 2-0 win means Dick Advocaat’s side have cut the lead between themselves and SPL leaders Celtic to 10 points, albeit possible only for a couple hours with the Hoops travelling to Dens Park later this evening to take on Dundee.
Advocaat faced a selection headache for this game with Lorenzo Amoruso, Arthur Numan and Claudio Reyna all out due to suspension and Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Ronald de Boer and Kenny Miller all missing through injury.
And it didn’t get any better when the game kicked off with £12 million man Tore Andre Flo forced to make an early exit in the 24th minute, also due to injury. Midfielder Tugay Kerimoglu was introduced as a replacement which seemed a little strange given another striker, Billy Dodds, was sitting on the bench.
Allan Johnston was back in the starting line-up for the first time since breaking a toe against Hibs at Easter Road almost two months ago. And the winger almost broke the deadlock in the 17th minute but his close-range shot was well saved by former Ibrox favourite Andy Goram.
The crowd were becoming increasingly frustrated as the clock ticked down and Rangers were failing to score but not half as frustrated as Advocaat was in the 33rd minute when Jorg Albertz twice wasted good opportunities by blasting his shots high and wide.
But the deadlock was finally broken in the 38th minute and Albertz made amends with a good corner which lead to the opening goal. The German whipped in his cross which Tony Vidmar headed towards goal, it looked as though it may have been going in but Bert Konterman helped it along for his first Rangers goal.
After a poor first half, the game failed to burst into life after the break and Rangers were always going to be living dangerously while they only had a one-goal lead. Albertz missed another good opportunity in the 65th minute and just seconds later he was replaced by Dodds. The German obviously wasn’t happy with his own contribution and kicked the medical bag in frustration before taking his seat on the bench.
But the Gers were allowed to breathed a little easier in the 77th minute when Captain Barry Ferguson headed past his former team-mate Goram to double his side’s lead and heap further pressure on Martin O’Neill and his side’s fans who would have been en route to Dundee.
RANGERS: Klos, Ricksen, Vidmar, Wilson, Konterman, Ferguson, Albertz (Dodds 66), McCann, Johnston (Johnston 83), Mols, Flo (Tugay 24) Subs (not used): Christiansen,, Ross
MOTHERWELL: Goram, Corrigan, Kemble (Oeiufio 31), Brannan, Strong, McCulloch, Hammell, Twaddle (Spencer 72), Elliott, Lasley, Leitch (Adams 69) Subs (not used): Woods, Nicholas
Scorers: Rangers – Konterman (38), Ferguson (77)
Bookings: Rangers – Ricksen (54), Wilson (64); Motherwell – Brannan (11), Twaddle (54), Oeiufio (77), Corrigan (79)