RANGERS earned a hard-fought victory over Motherwell in the Scottish Premiership this afternoon.
After falling behind to a Devante Cole opener, Jermain Defoe leveled matters before the break before Filip Helander won the game for the home side with 10 minutes left to play.
From the XI which impressed so much in the midweek Europa League draw with FC Porto, boss Steven Gerrard made four changes.
Out went Glen Kamara, Ryan Jack, Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Jack, with their places in the XI taken by Scott Arfield, Joe Aribo, Jermain Defoe and Greg Stewart.
After Ibrox impeccably observed the traditional minute of silence for the upcoming Armistice Day with this being the closest home game to November 11, it was Well who should have hit the front on three minutes.
From the left, Liam Grimshaw crossed, with Gers clearing it only as far as the incoming Chris Long who curled an effort over from 12-yards out.
Brandon Barker had an effort for Gers on 14 minutes go just wide as he shot from 25-yards, while Defoe shot just wide after turning on a Steven Davis ball out on the right corner of the area.
On 21 minutes, however, the visitors took the lead. Allan Campbell hit a speculative effort from distance which deflected off Filip Helander and into the path of Devante Cole. The attacker had his back to goal, but he did well to spin and finish underneath the despairing dive of McGregor.
Gers responded with Barker being denied a certain goal by a Bevis Mugabi block while the home side had two excellent claims for penalties turned down with the ball appearing to strike the arms of Mugabi and Grimshaw in quick succession.
On 37 minutes, however, the Light Blues were awarded a spot kick as James Tavernier was taken out by Liam Polworth on the right edge of the box.
Up-stepped the skipper to take it, and while goalkeeper Mark Gillespie went the wrong way, Tavernier’s strike came back off the left-hand post.
It looked like Gers were going to go into the break a goal behind, but in the first of three added minutes, Jermain Defoe grabbed his 13th of the season.
A long McGregor kick-out reached the Englishman after he showed wonderful strength to muscle Liam Donnelly off the ball 20-yards inside the Rangers half.
From there, he drifted wide and picked out the incoming Steven Davis on the edge of the box. The Ulsterman hit a rasping drive which Gillespie could only punch down into the path of Defoe, who finished wonderfully first time from an acute angle.
Defoe then headed a deflected Joe Aribo cross wide within two minutes of the restart, while Aribo shot wide from the edge of the area following a neat Greg Stewart flick to set him up.
Borna Barisic picked out Helander from a corner for a diving header on 54 minutes from eight yards out but the Swede’s effort went over, while Tavernier got the break of the ball in the box to bring a smart stop out of Gillespie down to his left.
From the resulting corner, Connor Goldson got on the end of the ball only to be denied by an excellent Declan Gallagher block.
Long missed a great chance in a rare break from the Steelmen on 69 minutes as he was fed to shoot into the side-netting by Cole from wide of the goal around 12-yards out.
Alfredo Morelos replaced Aribo on 71 minutes, and he came so close to an instant impact with a super cross from the right which Gallagher did so well to take off the foot of the well-placed Defoe on the edge of the six-yard box.
Morelos then did exceptionally well to bring down a Steven Davis ball over the top of the Well defence, but he was closed down by Peter Hartley as he went to shoot, and could only poke a weak shot into Gillespie’s arms.
The goal was definitely coming, however, and on 80 minutes, it duly arrived. Tavernier’s corner from the right was a good one, and while Filip Helander had so much to do to score, he superbly got away from marker Mugabi to power a super header into the bottom right-corner.
A frantic last 10 minutes then followed, though Morelos could have put the game to bed three minutes into injury time, though he shot straight at Gillespie after skinning Tait and drifting in from the right.
RANGERS: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Helander, Barisic; Arfield, Davis, Aribo (Morelos, 71); Stewart (Ojo, 65), Defoe, Barker (Kent, 43).
SUBS NOT USED: Foderingham, Jack, Halliday, Katic.
MOTHERWELL: Gillespie, Hartley, Gallagher, Carroll (Tait, 56), Grimshaw, Donnelly, Campbell, Polworth, Long (Hylton, 75), Mugabi (Seedorf, 81), Cole.
SUBS NOT USED: Carson, Scott, Maguire, Ilic.
REFEREE: Andrew Dallas