RANGERS crashed out of the Betfred Cup this afternoon after losing to Motherwell in the semi-final at Hampden Park.
Two goals in the second half from Louis Moult were enough for the Steelmen to progress through to the final at the end of November.
Rangers created the game’s first opportunity – and indeed, with a minute gone, they really should have taken the lead.
A long ball was floated forward by Fabio Cardoso which Alfredo Morelos did brilliantly to win in front of Peter Hartley. He knocked it on to the lightning-fast Josh Windass who continued his run into the box, but, despite being one-on-one with goalkeeper Trevor Carson, he took his shot early, an effort which was weak, and easily gathered by the stopper.
Gers next big chance again came from Morelos causing havoc in the Well backline. This time, it was a long clearance from Jak Alnwick he twice beat Cedric Kipre to before bringing the ball down for a shot – his drive going just wide.
Motherwell too were making a real game of it, and some slackness in the middle of the park from Gers allowed Ryan Bowman to streak clear down the left – but after he cut into the box, Bruno Alves had made up the ground and did enough to put Bowman off his shot.
But Rangers really were ramping the pressure up and a switch of wings between Daniel Candeias and Josh Windass brought some real joy for the Portuguese out on the left.
Firstly, a rasping cross from was inches away from being met by a diving Windass header, and then the two combined once again, this time a Windass from the edge of the box was easily held by Carson.
At the other end, a rare Well break saw Chris Cadden bring a terrific save out of Jak Alnwick before the action swung back again to he opposite half – with Bruno Alves narrowly heading wide a Declan John free-kick.
It really was a terrific contest, and Gers had Ryan Jack and once again Alnwick to thank for keeping their goal intact as from a corner, Kipre’s effort was cleared off the line by Jack, the ball fell to Peter Hartley, and somehow Alnwick got in the way to block his effort.
Again, the pendulum swung, and a rapid break from Gers ended with a Candeias cross from the right being met with a Declan John diving header at the back post which slipped wide.
The second half began with Gers again on the front-foot, and a good Declan John run saw him find Carlos Pena just on the edge of the box. Under pressure, he couldn’t get a shot away, but the ball broke for Morelos who shot wide.
Morelos turned provider in Gers’ next attack, combining well with Candeias on the right before hanging the ball up for Pena in the middle who headed off target.
The chances really were mounting up for the Gers, and Josh Windass was the latest to miss a great opportunity when he was played in by Pena, only again to find the arms of Carson.
And, those missed opportunities were to come back to haunt Caixinha’s men as Motherwell took the lead on 53 minutes.
A Chris Cadden corner was sent deep into the Gers box, and was met by Peter Hartley. Again, Ryan Jack denied him on the line, but this time the ball dropped for Louis Moult who hammered the ball high into the net.
It was a huge blow for Gers, and Caixinha’s response was to replace Pena with Aaron Nemane.
Nemane created a half chance for Candeias just minutes after coming on, hanging the ball up to the edge of the box, but the winger’s shot was over the bar, and Candeias put a second effort into the stand once more after a super break from Gers.
Fabio Cardoso had to be replaced by Ross McCrorie on 66 minutes after he was caught by Louis Moult and had blood pouring from his nose.
That clash brought about a heated exchange between Caixinha and opposite number Stephen Robsinson which resulted in both managers being sent to the stand.
With 16 minutes left to play, Motherwell grabbed a second goal. Rangers didn’t deal with a long ball forward to Moult, and he played a terrific lob over Alnwick and into the back of the net.
Gers best response to that was a Morelos header on the end of a Nemane cross which Carson got down low to his left to save.
The Light Blues must now lift themselves for Wednesday’s home match with Kilmarnock.
RANGERS: Alnwick; Tavernier, Alves, Cardoso (McCrorie 67), John; Candeias, Jack, Dorrans, Windass; Pena (Nemane, 60); Morelos.
SUBS: Foderingham, Gomes, Herrera, Hodson, Holt.
MOTHERWELL: Carson, Tait, Hartley, Cadden, McHugh, Moult, Bowman (Fisher, 90) Rose, Dunne, Kipre, Campbell (Bigirimana, 72).
SUBS: Griffiths, Hammell, Grimshaw, Frear, Tanner.