Rangers have blown the chance to close the gap at the top of the Scottish Premiership to a single point after a disastrous draw against Motherwell at Ibrox raised serious questions about the mentality of some of the Ibrox squad.
After Celtic’s draw with Hibs earlier in the afternoon, Rangers knew a win would seriously eat into the gap at the top of the table and really ignite the title race with ten games to go.
The Light Blues made two changes from the midweek win over Borussia Dortmund; Glen Kamara and Fashion Sakala returning to the side in place of Borna Barisic and Ryan Jack.
That meant John Lundstram moved back into central defence with Kamara partnering Scott Arfield in the middle of the park.
It was a bright start from Rangers and within 90 seconds of kick-off Alfredo Morelos had hit the woodwork as the Gers put Motherwell on the defensive immediately.
The early pressure continued and Motherwell had ex-Ibrox youngster Liam Kelly to thank for keeping the score level when he pulled off a fantastic save to deny James Tavernier in the seventh minute.
After quelling the tide of attacks, Motherwell slowly started to find a foothold in the game and get out of their own half on occasion – but there was only one team that looked likely to break the deadlock.
Kelly again came to the rescue for Motherwell, this time denying John Lundstram’s effort from the edge of the area as it looked to be sneaking in just under the crossbar.
Rangers’ dominance was highlighted by the fact the Light Blues had won no fewer than eight corner kicks in the opening 20 minutes – and they finally got their reward in 22 minutes.
Ryan Kent’s cross into the area looked to come off Bevis Mubagi and beat Kelly with Alfredo Morelos doing his best to claim the goal as his own.
Just moments later it was 2-0, Kent again driving at the Motherwell defence before his ball across goal fell for Sakala to rifle the ball across Kelly and into the back of the net.
Rangers deserved nothing less in the first half of the first half as they motored towards closing the gap on Celtic at the top of the table.
Motherwell were lucky to keep eleven on the pitch when Efford went into a challenge with Goldson high and late, leaving the Rangers star nursing a sore one and only earning Efford a booking from referee Don Robertson.
Going 2-0 up took a little of the pace out of the game as the minutes ticked away until the break; Rangers seeming quite content to be a bit more patient in possession and keeping things a little safer than they had in the opening 25.
That didn’t appear to sit too well with van Bronckhorst though, the Rangers boss cajoling his players – as well as the Ibrox ball boys – to do things quicker and keep Motherwell chasing shadows.
There was a strong shout for a penalty from the Rangers fans just before the break, Mugabi misjudging the flight of the ball and watching as it bounced up and hit his arm, leaving Don Robertson with a tough decision to make.
However, when the sides made their way off at half-time, there was only one side in at and the Ibrox fans made sure the players knew they appreciated their efforts.
Motherwell boss Graham Alexander made a triple change at the break as he tried to get his side back into the game, while Rangers stuck with the same XI that started the game.
Eight minutes after the restart, Motherwell pulled one back, Bassey caught in possession by Woolery and his ball across the face of goal was tapped home by Roberts.
While there were a few who should have done better, Allan McGregor allowing the ball to roll across his six-yard box was a ridiculous decision by the veteran keeper.
Van Bronckhorst’s side would have the ball in the back of the net just a few minutes later only for Morelos’ effort to be ruled out for an offside – although replays were far from conclusive over whether the officials made the right decision.
Rangers’ confident, attacking football from the opening 45 had disappeared, to be replaced by slow, ponderous play as Motherwell tried to get themselves level.
The hosts were again left bemoaning the officials after a second Alfredo Morelos strike was ruled out for offside, this one looking as though the officials had got the decision wrong.
The reverse pass to the Colombian, and the finish itself, were right out the top drawer and it was a shame to see the near-side assistant raise his flag again.
As the game entered the final 20 minutes, Rangers were starting to look a bit leggy and it was quickly becoming obvious that the Gers needed to introduce some fresh legs and see out the closing stages.
That would come back and haunt Rangers, with Motherwell levelling things up in the 76th minute, Woolery firing home at the near post after Tavernier failed to clear the danger – although how he managed to beat Allan McGregor so easily at the front post is something only the keeper can explain.
The scene was set for a frantic finale with the Rangers players surely going all-out to get the three points and close the gap in the league table and the fans were giving the players plenty of encouragement to get forward.
Van Bronckhorst finally made his first change on 83 minutes, introducing Roofe for Sakala but it felt a bit too little, too late as Rangers huffed and puffed their way through the final minutes.
There were desperate appeals for a penalty again after the ball hit a Motherwell player’s hand, the referee AGAIN seeing nothing in it, completing an afternoon of giving every major decision in favour of the visitors throughout the 90 minutes.
As the final whistle blew, there was little surprise at the chorus of boos that rained down on van Bronckhorst and his players.
Having been handed a golden opportunity to close the gap on Celtic, the Gers once again were found badly wanting and must now regroup ahead of facing St Johnstone in midweek.
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Lundstram, Bassey, Kamara, Arfield, Aribo, Fashion Jr, Kent, Morelos.
Subs: McLaughlin, Zukowski, Balogun, Barisic, Sands, Lowry, Amad, Wright, Roofe
Motherwell: Kelly, O’Donnell, Mugabi, Lamie, Carroll, Cornelius, O’Hara, Donnelly, Tierney, Efford, Woolery
Subs: Morrison, Shaw, Ojala, Slattery, Amaluzor, Solholm, Goss, Shields, Roberts.