RAMPANT Rangers defeated Motherwell in their own backyard with a controlled and clinical display this afternoon.
A double from James Tavernier from the spot, Jordan Jones’ first Gers goal and Cedric Itten’s maiden goals in Light Blue secured all three points on a great day’s work from Steven Gerrard’s side.
From the side which so impressively defeated Willem II 4-0 in the Europa League on Thursday, boss Gerrard named two changes with Calvin Bassey and Jordan Jones coming in for Borna Barisic and Ianis Hagi.
With just 45 seconds on the clock, Gers could have been ahead. Another stunning James Tavernier delivery from a free-kick after Scott Arfield was fouled was won almost on the penalty spot by Alfredo Morelos.
His header had plenty of power and direction, but goalkeeper Trevor Carson got down low to his right to smuggle the ball behind for a corner before the incoming Fil Helander could poke home the loose ball.
Then, on 11 minutes, Gers were awarded a penalty kick – their first in the league for exactly 11 months. Bassey’s cross was flicked on by Arfield, and in the act of doing so, the ball flicked off the arm of Bevis Mugabi with referee Bobby Madden having no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Up-stepped Tavernier to take – and he could hardly have been more precise with his kick as it kissed the inside of the left-hand post on its way into the back of the net to give the skipper his fifth goal in his last six matches.
Gers continued to keep the pressure up, and Ryan Kent was denied by an excellent Well block from a powerful sot he had from just outside the area before on 28 minutes, on his first start of the season Jordan Jones made it 2-0 with his first Rangers goal.
Scott Arfield played a super ball through for Jones to take on Ricki Lamie in a footrace. The Northern Ireland international was always winning the battle, and as he entered the area, he curled a beautiful finish beyond his fellow Ulster teammate Carson off that left-hand post again before the ball nestled in the back of the net.
It could have been three soon after – Arfield having a shot deflected over following some lovely, intricate passing football from the Light Blues in around the area.
From the resulting corner, however, Gers were awarded a second penalty, with Liam Grimshaw penalised this time for another handball.
Tavernier took it and blasted it to the right this time and into the back on the net to put him on six goals from six matches this season.
The home side were the first to really threaten in the second half, Bevis Mugabe heading over, while Tavernier looked to catch out Carson with a quick free-kick, but the goalkeeper was alive enough to gather his strike.
The captain then had another free-kick effort from 25-yards brilliantly beaten away by Carson as he went in search of a hat-trick.
The second half was punctuated by both sides making a number of changes, and one of them, Cedric Itten, opened his Rangers account in some style on 75 minutes.
Arfield – with his second assist of the afternoon - picked out the striker on the edge of the area. The ball sat up for him a little, and on the half volley, he rifled the ball beyond Carson and into the back of the net.
It was just a fabulous way for him to nab his first Rangers goal, though within two minutes of the restart, Allan McGregor was called into action really for the first time in the match with a wonderful save to tip a Mark O’Hara free-kick over the bar.
On 80 minutes, Itten had another! Confusion in the home defence from a Tavernier corner meant the ball dropped at the feet of the Swiss, and from a yard or two out, he managed to flick the ball home.
He was now on a hat-trick too, and a Tavernier cross was just a little too high for him to get a proper connection to as he headed over the bar on 85 minutes.
Well managed a consolation on 87 minutes with George Edmundson being unfortunate to knock a corner beyond McGregor and into his own net.
Jermain Defoe, after coming onto the park, was always going to be going in search of a goal – and he almost scored a super one, bringing a long Tavernier ball down with one, killer touch before Carson denied him with an excellent, point-blank save.
Tavernier came close again to that hat-trick, heading a Bassey ball over deep in injury time, but this was a hugely satisfying afternoon’s work from Rangers today.
RANGERS: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson (Balogun, 59), Helander, Bassey; Arfield, Kamara, Davis (Edmundson, 76); Kent (Itten, 68), Jones (Hagi, 76), Morelos (Defoe, 76).
SUBS: McLaughlin, Patterson, Stewart, Barisic.
MOTHERWELL: Carson, Grimshaw, Lamie, Campbell, O’Hara, Mugabi, Polworth (Maguire, 45), Lang (Seedorf, 58), Gallagher, Watt (White, 70), O’Donnell (Long, 45)
SUBS NOT USED: Morrison, McGinley Crawford, Hylton, Cornelius.
REFEREE: Bobby Madden
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