Rangers 2-0 Motherwell: Report
Rangers 2-0 Motherwell: Match Report - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game as it happened.
Gers still a force to be reckoned with
Rangers showed they can still compete with the top sides in the country by beating Motherwell 2-0 in the Scottish Communities League Cup.
The Light Blues faced top-flight opposition for the first time since being consigned to liquidation and voted into the Irn-Bru Third Division in the summer when the Clydesdale Bank Premier League leaders came calling in the third round tie.
Motherwell were branded favourites by their hosts ahead of this game but any hopes of claiming a first win at Ibrox since 1997 were dashed by goals from Lee McCulloch and Dean Shiels as Rangers booked their place in the quarter-finals.
Ally McCoist made two changes to his side from the weekend after Ian Black failed to recover from a hamstring injury and Barrie McKay was dropped to the bench.
Francisco Sandaza was drafted into the starting line-up and Fraser Aird made his first start after an impressive debut from the bench against Montrose.
Motherwell named an unchanged side after being held to a 3-3 draw by Aberdeen in their last outing.
One of the biggest criticisms levelled at Rangers this season was starting games too slowly but they were out of the traps quickly, as the stadium rocked.
Clearly, both players and fans were relishing the return of top-flight opposition to Govan and it was Rangers who almost drew first blood.
Aird looked dangerous down the left flank and delivered a teasing ball into the box for Sandaza but he failed to connect properly and produce a clean shot.
The first effort on target fell to Motherwell when Tom Hateley had a go from the edge of the area but goalkeeper Neil Alexander was able to claim comfortably.
Hateley then turned provider for Henrik Ojamaa but he was forced too wide before unleashing and Alexander was again up to the task and gathered with ease.
There was concern for both sides when Sandaza and Shaun Hutchison required treatment following a sickening clash of heads.
Hutchison left the pitch with blood pouring from a head wound and returned several minutes later after receiving stitches but the match was over for a groggy-looking Sandaza, who was taken down the tunnel on a stretcher.
Kyle Hutton was thrown into the action for the striker with 24 minutes gone, making his first appearance since the League Cup win over East Fife in early August.
Both teams looked capable of finding the back of the net and Rangers came close when Shiels' cut-back found McCulloch and he drove just over the crossbar from 10 yards.
At the other end, Nicky Law found himself one on one with Alexander but the Rangers goalkeeper raced off his line to clear the danger before the midfielder could unleash the shot.
The second half was just four minutes old when Rangers opened the scoring.
Aird's short corner was punted into the box by Shiels where McCulloch was waiting to take advantage of poor marking by Motherwell and nod home from six yards.
Rangers doubled their lead after 56 minutes when Anestis Argyriou squared into the path of Shiels in plenty of space to volley past the helpless Darren Randolph.
The Steelmen could have pulled a goal back with a free-kick just outside the box but a swerving effort from Hateley was tipped wide by a full-stretch Alexander.
The tie could have been all but over for Motherwell when Aird forced his way past two defenders into the box only for his low shot to be blocked by the legs of Randolph.
The visitors tried to haul themselves back into the match and Ojamaa went to ground under pressure from Ross Perry but there was no penalty from referee Calum Murray.
Goalscorer Shiels appeared to take a knock and was replaced by youngster Robbie Crawford, before fellow substitute McKay was denied late on by Randolph, as Rangers held on for the morale-boosting victory.
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