RANGERS put two past Motherwell to pick up a crucial win at Ibrox as Danny Wilson and Alfredo Morelos both struck in the second-half.
On his 26th birthday Wilson produced a brilliant strike to fire the Gers ahead just before the hour mark. Then Morelos grabbed his 13th of the season 14 minutes from time to sew the points up.
There was though bad news for Graeme Murty ahead of Saturday’s Old Firm as Ryan Jack was stretched off in the first-half with a knee injury following a heavy tackle from Cedric Kipre.
After an early scare from Motherwell within seconds of the game beginning Rangers found their stride and created two early openings at Ibrox. James Tavernier tried his luck with a drive from distance on 11 minutes but the full-back’s strike was always rising and cleared the bar with some ease.
The returning Niko Kranjcar was up next when he collected a looping Tavernier ball over his shoulder before trying to tap beyond Trevor Carson in mid-air. Alfredo tried to bury the rebound off the Well keeper but fired over the crossbar.
Rangers broke on the counter with 25 minutes gone and nearly profited after some good hold up play from Morelos on the edge of the box. That allowed Kranjcar space to let in Declan John down the left. The Welshman showed quick feet before picking his spot and attempting to curl the ball home. Carson scooped up his shot with little trouble though.
Both teams moved late into the half with little to record in front of goal. Wes Foderingham was untroubled while Eduardo Herrera put a tame header over the bar following a whipped Kranjcar corner from the left.
Ryan Jack was returning from suspension for the visit of the Steelmen but lasted just 38 minutes. Ibrox fell nearly silent when the midfielder went down writhing in pain just before the break. Kipre appeared to have gone in studs up on Jack’s left knee after a mistimed challenge. After some delay and attention from the Gers medical team the 25-year-old was stretched off with his head in his hands.
Rangers then had another player sidelined as Herrera was forced off the field following a blow to the nose under another heavy challenge from Kipre. The defender was cautioned by John Beaton for his actions. Those delays meant there was eight minutes of stoppage time to be played which allowed Allan Campbell time to drag a shot just wide of Foderingham’s upright for the away side.
If the first-half had whimpered out the second started in similar fashion until the unlikely figure of Danny Wilson blazed the game into action. The defender found himself a few yards into the box after collecting a loose ball from a corner and had little option but to shoot. He took a few tentative touches on the left of the area before rifling a shot into the roof of the net on the angle for his third of the season.
The Light Blues would have doubled their lead on 70 minutes had it not been for the legs of Carson. The Well keeper produced a superb stop from Morelos as he made himself big to deny the Colombian a 13th of the season. Kranjcar had threaded the striker through on goal with a pinpoint ball and the 21-year-old’s strike was strong and heading on target before Carson’s intervention.
Seconds later first-half sub Jamie Barjonas drove one from distance as he rushed onto a defensive clearance but again Carson stood in the Gers way.
Gael Bigirimana was back at Ibrox following his brief loan in 2015 when he made no appearance for Rangers. This time the Burundian was playing though and narrowly put a free-kick wide moments after the home side’s double of chances. The game had certainly come alive and Alex Fisher rose highest on 74 minutes to plant a header inches the wrong side of Foderingham’s left post.
Declan John then played Herrera in from the left for the Mexican to try and beat Carson at his near post. The Northern Irishman was having a superb spell in goal though and thwarted the striker from close range.
Carson and his Motherwell teammates had rode their luck in this period of the game though and Morelos managed to find a way past the 29-year-old with 14 minutes left to play. The league’s top scorer managed to switch the ball to his favoured right foot with the deft touch of his knee before powering home into the bottom corner. This time no one could stop Murty’s men scoring.
RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, Alves, Wilson, John, McCrorie, Jack (Barjonas 41’), Holt, Kranjcar (Pena 83’), Morelos (Hardie 83’), Herrera
Subs not used: Kelly, Hodson, Bates, Candeias
Goals: Wilson 57’ Morelos 76’
Yellows: McCrorie 68’
MOTHERWELL: Carson, Tait, Grimshaw, Bigirimana, Hartley, McHugh (Campbell 20’), Rose (Bowman 62’), Fisher (Newell 78’), Dunne, Kipre, Tanner.
Subs not used: Xenodochov, Hammel, MacLean, Turnbull
Yellows: Kipre 42’ Tait 45’ Bigirimana 73’ Grimshaw 82’