Rangers stood up to a physical challenge and played some good football in the second half to win 2-0 and avoid another defeat. Neither side was at their strongest going into this match and it showed in terms of performance. However, Rangers were clearly the better team on the night and deserved the three points.
Rangers started the match with a return to their 4-4-2 diamond midfield. Niko Kranjcar and Eduardo Herrera made rare starts, and Alves and Jack returned to the side. Motherwell were missing influential players such as Louis Moult and Chris Cadden. They also started with Ryan Bowman on the bench, possibly to take some heat away from him after the semi-final.
And with only seconds on the clock, Motherwell had a great chance. A clearance by Kipre was flicked on and Wilson was caught wrong side of Tanner. The Motherwell forward rushed his shot and hit it straight at Foderingham. As it turned out, this was Motherwell’s only shot on target for the entire game.
In the 3rd minute, the first of a number of delays in the game came from an injury to Ross McCrorie. A loose pass saw him go into a challenge where he was lucky not to be more seriously injured.
On the 10th minute, Rangers created a good chance. A quick pass from Kranjcar found Tavernier on the run. He beat a couple of defenders and hit a shot which was well over the bar. Those two players combined again 3 minutes later when Tavernier played a great ball for Kranjcar. He was in behind the defence and tried to beat the keeper with a first time flick which was saved. The ball fell to Morelos on the edge of the box, but he hit it too early and sent it miles over.
On the 20th minute, another stoppage was brought around by the injury to Motherwell captain Carl McHugh. He was replaced but the game was very stop-start by this point and chances were becoming rare.
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On the 37th minute, a very poor challenge on Ryan Jack saw him have to be stretchered off. For the fans, it was easy to miss the late tackle from Kipre as the ball was already away. Somehow, though, referee Beaton missed it despite being only yards away, as there wasn’t even a free kick given. Replays showed that it was a dangerous, late challenge, and pictures suggest Jack has got a serious injury. Hopefully, it won’t be as bad as feared. The delay from that injury was lengthy and just minutes later there was another as Herrera took a boot to the face. Yet again, it was Kipre who was involved, and this time he was booked.
All of the delays meant there were 8 minutes of injury time. Motherwell were the team who created a good chance in this period as Campbell was sent clear on the left after some smart play. His shot went across the face of goal and just wide.
The Rangers fans were frustrated at half time, feeling that the performance wasn’t good enough. For the first 10 minutes of the second half, the game looked as though it was following a similar pattern. Rangers had a lot of the ball, Motherwell sat in and tried to spoil, and chances weren’t being created.
On 56 minutes, though, all that changed. Rangers won a corner from a Morelos shot which was going wide. The corner was cleared to the edge of the box and played back in by Barjonas. A deft touch from Alves found Wilson and he lashed home an absolutely great effort into the far top corner with his left foot. Wilson has now scored a few goals in recent matches but it’s doubtful he’s ever scored a better one than that.
Rangers picked up their level from there, and were starting to play better football. The final ball was the issue more than once but you could feel a growing confidence. On the 69th minute, they forced two good saves from Carson. The first came from a great pass by Kranjcar which sent Morelos through. His right foot shot was powerful but the keeper kept himself big and deflected it clear. Mere seconds later, he had to dive to his right to palm away a strong Barjonas effort from the edge of the box.
Motherwell then created a couple of chances in the next 5 minutes. The first was a free kick from Bigirimana which went wide. The next chance was their best of the half, with a cross from the right met by Fisher in the box. Good pressure from Tavernier forced the header wide.
A minute after that, Rangers extended their lead. A cross from John was met by Herrera and, again, the keeper made a good save. As the ball was played back to Wilson from the clearance, the Motherwell defence tried to step out. Their left back was slow, though, and kept Morelos and Herrera onside in the box. Wilson found Morelos, and he took two touches before lashing home a shot into the far post. Carson had made a number of good saves but had no chance with that one.
From there, the game was largely played out. Motherwell didn’t have any real threat going forward and Rangers were more confident on the ball.
This was a good win given the circumstances. It was never likely to be a great game and, in many ways, the reactions to the first half were harsh. With all the stoppages and fouls, it was understandably poor. Rangers can take confidence from how they stood up to the Motherwell approach and some of the football they played in the second half.
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’
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’