KENNY MILLER was the Rangers hero as his stunning last-minute strike secured all three points on a memorable afternoon at Ibrox Stadium.
With the scoreline sitting at 1-1 after Motherwell’s Scott McDonald and Harry Forrester had found the net on 19 and 63 minutes respectively, the Light Blues needed a moment of magic and they got it once again from that man Miller.
Niko Kranjcar’s cross was skewed wide by Michael O’Halloran but it fell perfectly for Rangers’ number nine who guided an accurate shot beyond Craig Samson to send Ibrox wild.
It was a dramatic and pulsating end to an entertaining battle and the Steelmen played their part with the home side having to work ever so hard for this sweet victory.
Mark Warburton will be delighted with the fighting qualities his players displayed but he’ll undoubtedly save praise in his post-match interviews for Miller who saved the day with a typically composed finish we’ve seen so many times from him in the past.
The manager named the same eleven players who started against Dundee a week ago for today’s game and that continuity appeared to help Rangers as they enjoyed a lot of early possession in this contest.
On 11 minutes the first chance arrived to Miller and it was put on a plate for him.
A poor back pass by Lionel Ainsworth to Craig Samson was intercepted by the Gers number nine but after a couple of touches he blazed a left-foot shot over the bar with just Motherwell’s keeper to beat.
It was enough to get fans out of their seats though, and in the next attack a long-range shot from the lively Forrester went inches over with Samson watching it closely.
It was encouraging football for the Ibrox faithful but Motherwell then came into the game and had two goalscoring opportunities, the second of which they took with 19 minutes on the clock.
For the first a long kick out from Samson was flicked on to Ainsworth who sent a shot wide from 20 yards with Wes Foderingham diving to his left.
Marvin Johnson then turned provider for the opening goal when he twisted inside James Tavernier and his deflected cross fell to Scott McDonald who rolled the ball into the empty net from a couple of yards out.
The Rangers defence looked for the linesman’s flag but the Australian striker was in line with the last defender when Johnson clipped his delivery in.
Motherwell were now on cloud nine and it almost got even better for them a couple of minutes later when they carved out another excellent chance.
McDonald flicked a clever pass over the Gers defence to Johnson who headed the ball intelligently away from goal to Craig Clay. The midfielder volleyed first time but failed to test Foderingham in front of the Copland Stand.
At the half hour mark the Rangers fans turned up the volume in a bid to drive their players on, but there was also nervousness in the air with Well dangerous on the counter.
With half time approaching the players in blue pushed for an equaliser but, in the end, could not find a way past Samson, who was not really tested in what turned out to be a frustrating 45.
Like the first half, Rangers started the second in a positive manner with Tavernier curling in two excellent deliveries. Lee Wallace then did the same but centre half Ben Heneghan did brilliantly to get in front of Andy Halliday and clear the danger on the six-yard line.
At the other end Motherwell continued to be a threat and when Richard Tait floated a pass to McDonald his low shot across goal was brilliantly palmed away by Foderingham.
It was end to end football now and when Halliday crossed into the box Danny Wilson rose above the visitors’ defence to power a header over the bar.
On 56 minutes Mark Warburton made his first changes to his side with Joe Dodoo replacing Barrie McKay and Kranjcar going on for Halliday.
Rangers needed something special to get back into the game and the club’s Croatian star produced just that to start the move which led to the equaliser after the hour mark.
His delightful pass landed perfectly on Kenny Miller’s chest but his touch took the ball too close to Samson who rushed off his line to make an initial save.
Thankfully, the rebound arrived at Harry Forrester’s feet and from the penalty spot he planted the ball into the net for his second goal in successive games.
That was to be the playmaker’s last contribution to the game as he was replaced by Michael O’Halloran, and the former St Johnstone striker’s pace and direct style gave the Motherwell players something else to think about as the Light Blues went in search of a winning goal.
With 20 minutes remaining Rangers certainly looked the more likely side to claim the three points but in Marvin Johnson Motherwell have a dangerous player and, against the run of play, Foderingham had to be sharp to pull off a fine stop after Well’s number 11 tried his luck from 25 yards.
The drama was building up and up and you always felt there was another goal to come, but which way would it go?
With 90+1 minutes played Kranjcar, who made the difference, crossed and when the ball slid off O’Halloran’s foot it landed to Miller who curled the ball home with great confidence.
RANGERS: Foderingham; Tavernier, Kiernan, Wilson, Wallace; Barton, Rossiter, Halliday (Kranjcar 56); McKay (Dodoo 56), Miller, Forrester (O’Halloran 66)
SUBS NOT USED: Gilks, Hill, Hodson, Bates, O’Halloran
GOALS: Forrester 63, Miller 90+1
MOTHERWELL: Samson; Tait, Heneghan, McManus, Chalmers; Ainsworth, Cadden, Lasley, Clay (Blyth 87), Johnson; McDonald
SUBS NOT USED: Brill, Lucas, Thomas, McFadden, Ferguson, MacLean
GOALS: McDonald 19
REF: Bobby Madden