Motherwell crashed to a heavy 6-0 defeat as a rampant Rangers side ran riot at Ibrox this afternoon.
A hat-trick from Nikica Jelavic as well as goals from Naismith, Healy and a Shaun Hutchinson own goal gave Water Smith’s men the convincing win.
‘Well battled hard but a more experienced and, at times, ruthless Rangers proved too much in the end in an afternoon to forget for the Fir Parkers.
Stuart McCall made just one change from the side that disposed of Stranraer seven day ago. Steven Saunders dropped out with a hamstring injury, although he would’ve missed the game anyway through suspension, and was replaced by fellow youngster Jonathan Page.
The home side almost made the perfect start inside the opening minute when the much-talked about El Hadji Diouf raced beyond the ‘Well defensive line after a wonderful through ball by Vladimir Weiss. However, Darren Randolph was quick off his line, forcing the Senegalese striker to prod the ball way wide.
However, lessons weren’t learned and Rangers took the lead with their second attack. Weiss done well to work space on the left flank and his low, tantalising cross was slid home by Steven Naismith who was afforded the freedom of the six yard box.
Rangers continued to dominate and Jelavic almost doubled their lead after getting on the end of another Weiss ball but his trundling effort rolled wide of the post with Randolph looking fairly comfortable.
Slovak Weiss was again in the thick of things a few minutes later when he went over in the box. Despite howls from the home stands, referee Alan Muir waved away the protest.
The Steelmen somewhat weathered the early storm and almost got themselves back in the game with two decent chances. The first fell to Northern Irishman Steve Jones who fired into the side net after some smart lead-up play and the second, from John Sutton, dropped just over the bar after a fantastic passing move in the build-up.
However, as so often happens in football, with Motherwell slowly creeping their way back into the game, Rangers hit on the counter and doubled their lead. After winning the ball in the middle of the park with ‘Well on the attack, Rangers quickly sent Whittaker clear on the right flank. He, in turn, slid in Jelavic who had the simple task to tuck under Randolph for 2-0.
It quickly turned from bad to worse for ‘Well when Rangers added a third two minutes later. Craigan’s foul on Bartley, which produced the first caution of the game, allowed Weiss to whip in a cross that was flicked into the net by Jelavic again. Disaster for Motherwell!
To be fair to the Fir Parkers, they regrouped again and almost pulled one back, but shots from Jones and Gavin Gunning were both blocked by a stubborn Rangers defence.
Six minutes into the second half and ‘Well boss Stuart McCall switched things around by introducing Ross Forbes in place of Jonathan Page and bulking up the midfield.
And the youngster almost made an instant impression when he fired a superb dipping shot at goal which forced Alan McGregor into an excellent one-handed block.
The game slowed to walking pace and only burst back to life on the 70th minute when Fleck flicked a Whittaker cross towards goal, but Keith Lasley was close enough to make the important block. Darren Randolph matched that with an important block of his own two minutes later when he thwarted debutant David Healy with a smart low save.
With fifteen minutes left on the clock, Rangers put the game beyond doubt when Shaun Hutchinson was the unfortunate man who turned the ball into his own net. Davis burst clear through the middle before feeding Fleck on the flank – his teasing low ball across the face was turned into the net by the Geordie youngster with Jelavic waiting to pounce behind him.
However, the Croatian wouldn’t be denied his hat-trick when he smashed low under Randolph from just inside the area. With seven minutes left, Healy got amongst the scorers too when he got the break of the ball inside the box and drilled home under Randolph.
That was the end of the goals in what was a sore day for the Steelmen. However, with Aberdeen, Hamilton and St Mirren coming up in the next ten days, Stuart McCall’s side will have little time to reflect on this afternoon’s heavy defeat.
[tab:As it happened]
PA at Ibrox Stadium
90mins – The referee ends the match.
89mins – John Fleck gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ross Forbes. Shaun Hutchinson restarts play with the free kick.
88mins – Corner taken left-footed by Ross Forbes.
87mins – Madjid Bougherra challenges Francis Jeffers unfairly and gives away a free kick. Ross Forbes shoots direct from the free kick, brilliant save by Allan McGregor.
87mins – John Fleck takes a shot. Shaun Hutchinson gets a block in.
85mins – Steven Whittaker takes a shot. Save by Darren Randolph.
83mins – John Fleck concedes a free kick for a foul on Tom Hateley. Direct free kick taken by Gavin Gunning.
82mins – GOAL – David Healy: Rangers 6 – 0 Motherwell A goal is scored by David Healy from close in low into the middle of the goal. Rangers 6-0 Motherwell.
81mins – Corner taken by Tom Hateley played to the near post.
81mins – Ross Forbes takes a shot. Maurice Edu gets a block in.
81mins – Chris Humphrey fouled by Sasa Papac, the ref awards a free kick. Ross Forbes takes the free kick.
80mins – Madjid Bougherra challenges Stephen Craigan unfairly and gives away a free kick. Darren Randolph takes the free kick.
78mins – Assist on the goal came from Sasa Papac.
78mins – GOAL – Nikica Jelavic: Rangers 5 – 0 Motherwell Nikica Jelavic grabs a goal from inside the box low into the middle of the goal. Rangers 5-0 Motherwell.
78mins – Centre by John Fleck, clearance made by Steve Jennings.
75mins – GOAL – Shaun Hutchinson: Rangers 4 – 0 Motherwell Shaun Hutchinson concedes an unfortunate own goal. Rangers 4-0 Motherwell.
74mins – Unfair challenge on Maurice Edu by Gavin Gunning results in a free kick. The ball is delivered by Vladimir Weiss, Nikica Jelavic has a headed effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the target.
74mins – Booking Gavin Gunning shown a yellow card.
73mins – Substitution John Sutton leaves the field to be replaced by Francis Jeffers.
72mins – Shot by David Weir from outside the box goes over the target.
72mins – A cross is delivered by John Fleck.
72mins – Vladimir Weiss decides to take the corner short.
72mins – David Healy takes a shot. Save by Darren Randolph.
72mins – Keith Lasley challenges John Fleck unfairly and gives away a free kick. Steven Davis takes the direct free kick.
71mins – The ball is sent over by David Healy.
70mins – Foul by Ross Forbes on Vladimir Weiss, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Vladimir Weiss.
70mins – A cross is delivered by Steven Whittaker, Jamie Murphy gets a block in.
69mins – Substitution Kyle Bartley leaves the field to be replaced by Maurice Edu.
69mins – Corner taken by Vladimir Weiss.
68mins – Substitution Jamie Murphy replaces Steve Jones.
68mins – Centre by Steven Whittaker, Steven Davis takes a shot. Blocked by Stephen Craigan.
66mins – The ball is sent over by Ross Forbes.
65mins – The ball is crossed by Tom Hateley, Allan McGregor makes a save.
64mins – Centre by Tom Hateley, David Weir manages to make a clearance.
63mins – Madjid Bougherra gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on John Sutton. Free kick taken by Shaun Hutchinson.
63mins – Substitution David Healy is brought on as a substitute for El-Hadji Diouf.
61mins – Ross Forbes challenges El-Hadji Diouf unfairly and gives away a free kick. Madjid Bougherra takes the direct free kick.
61mins – Booking Ross Forbes is shown a yellow card.
60mins – Corner taken by Tom Hateley from the left by-line to the near post, save by Allan McGregor.
58mins – Unfair challenge on Vladimir Weiss by Ross Forbes results in a free kick. Vladimir Weiss takes the direct free kick.
57mins – Unfair challenge on John Fleck by Gavin Gunning results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Vladimir Weiss.
57mins – Booking Madjid Bougherra receives a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
57mins – John Fleck takes a shot. Darren Randolph makes a save.
56mins – Corner taken right-footed by Tom Hateley from the left by-line, clearance made by Madjid Bougherra.
55mins – Ross Forbes takes a shot. Brilliant save by Allan McGregor.
52mins – Sasa Papac crosses the ball.
51mins – Substitution Ross Forbes is brought on as a substitute for Jonathan Page.
51mins – Centre by Madjid Bougherra, clearance made by Stephen Craigan.
50mins – Sasa Papac sends in a cross, blocked by Stephen Craigan.
48mins – Steve Jennings gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Steven Whittaker. Direct free kick taken by Madjid Bougherra.
47mins – A cross is delivered by Nikica Jelavic, John Fleck produces a header from inside the six-yard box that clears the bar.
46mins – El-Hadji Diouf fouled by Steve Jennings, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Madjid Bougherra.
45mins – The referee gets the second half underway.
45mins – The referee blows for half time.
45mins – Tom Hateley concedes a free kick for a foul on Vladimir Weiss. Vladimir Weiss delivers the ball from the free kick left footed from left wing, Darren Randolph makes a save.
44mins – John Fleck produces a cross, Shot from inside the six-yard box by Nikica Jelavic goes wide right of the target.
41mins – Substitution John Fleck is brought on as a substitute for Steven Naismith.
41mins – Vladimir Weiss crosses the ball.
40mins – The ball is crossed by Steve Jones, Sasa Papac manages to make a clearance.
40mins – A cross is delivered by Steve Jones, clearance by Steven Whittaker.
39mins – Steve Jones takes a shot. Blocked by Madjid Bougherra.
38mins – Inswinging corner taken by Tom Hateley from the left by-line, clearance made by Kyle Bartley.
37mins – Free kick awarded for a foul by David Weir on Chris Humphrey. Free kick crossed right-footed by Tom Hateley from right channel, clearance made by Madjid Bougherra.
36mins – Stephen Craigan gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Kyle Bartley. Assist on the goal came from Vladimir Weiss.
36mins – GOAL – Nikica Jelavic: Rangers 3 – 0 Motherwell Nikica Jelavic fires in a goal from close range to the top right corner of the goal. Rangers 3-0 Motherwell.
35mins – Booking The referee books Stephen Craigan for unsporting behaviour.
33mins – Steven Whittaker provided the assist for the goal.
33mins – GOAL – Nikica Jelavic: Rangers 2 – 0 Motherwell Nikica Jelavic finds the net with a goal from inside the area low into the middle of the goal. Rangers 2-0 Motherwell.
32mins – The ball is sent over by Gavin Gunning, Header from deep inside the area by John Sutton goes over the bar.
31mins – Steve Jones has an effort at goal from close in which goes wide left of the goal.
31mins – Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Chris Humphrey by Nikica Jelavic. Tom Hateley crosses the ball in from the free kick.
30mins – Steven Whittaker concedes a free kick for a foul on Steve Jones. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Tom Hateley from left wing, David Weir manages to make a clearance.
30mins – Gavin Gunning crosses the ball, blocked by Steven Naismith.
27mins – The ball is crossed by El-Hadji Diouf, Shaun Hutchinson makes a clearance.
25mins – Tom Hateley concedes a free kick for a foul on Vladimir Weiss. Sasa Papac restarts play with the free kick.
25mins – A cross is delivered by Chris Humphrey, blocked by Sasa Papac.
25mins – Chris Humphrey delivers the ball, Sasa Papac gets a block in.
22mins – Vladimir Weiss takes a shot. Jonathan Page gets a block in.
21mins – Foul by Jonathan Page on Nikica Jelavic, free kick awarded. The free kick is swung in right-footed by El-Hadji Diouf.
20mins – The ball is sent over by El-Hadji Diouf, clearance by Stephen Craigan.
19mins – The ball is swung over by El-Hadji Diouf, save made by Darren Randolph.
18mins – Vladimir Weiss takes the inswinging corner, clearance made by John Sutton.
18mins – Madjid Bougherra sends in a cross, clearance by John Sutton.
17mins – Short corner taken by El-Hadji Diouf from the right by-line.
17mins – Kyle Bartley crosses the ball, clearance made by Jonathan Page.
14mins – The ball is swung over by Gavin Gunning, Kyle Bartley gets a block in.
14mins – Foul by Steven Whittaker on Steve Jones, free kick awarded. Gavin Gunning takes the free kick.
13mins – Close range shot by Nikica Jelavic misses to the left of the target.
12mins – Steven Davis takes a shot. Blocked by Tom Hateley.
11mins – Foul by Jonathan Page on El-Hadji Diouf, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed right-footed by Vladimir Weiss from right channel.
10mins – The ball is crossed by Tom Hateley, Sasa Papac makes a clearance.
8mins – Gavin Gunning fouled by Kyle Bartley, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Darren Randolph.
4mins – The assist for the goal came from Vladimir Weiss.
4mins – GOAL – Steven Naismith: Rangers 1 – 0 Motherwell Steven Naismith scores a goal from close range to the bottom left corner of the goal. Rangers 1-0 Motherwell.
4mins – The ball is crossed by Steve Jones, save by Allan McGregor.
3mins – Outswinging corner taken right-footed by El-Hadji Diouf, Header by Kyle Bartley from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the target.
1min – Shot by El-Hadji Diouf from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the goal.
1min – Shaun Hutchinson produces a cross, clearance made by Madjid Bougherra.
1min – Foul by Steven Naismith on John Sutton, free kick awarded. Stephen Craigan takes the free kick.
1min – The referee gets the match started.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“We’ve got to regroup and regroup quickly and go to a more important game, if you like, at Aberdeen. We struggled to shape up a side until this morning with the injuries we had.
“We didn’t want to concede an early goal to a side who, if they get an early goal, they have players who can destroy you and that’s what happened.
“I did feel, after the first five to 10 minutes, we did start getting back into the game.
“Steve Jones had a chance and hit the side-netting and Chris Sutton’s headed inches over with a terrific move and, at that stage, the crowd were getting a bit tense and anxious and we were beginning to put some passes together and then we got hit with a sucker punch.
“Then we lose another straight after from a free-kick.”
Rangers manager Walter Smith:
“We’ve three new players in. We have to give them a chance to play, integrate them into the team. They’ve been working hard to get up to speed and we are delighted with them.
“We played very well today. It was only a couple of weeks ago that Motherwell made it very difficult for us in the semi-final of the Co-operative Insurance Cup.
“We managed to get a goal early on, which settled us down. Then after 20 minutes Motherwell had their best spell of the game, at the end of which we scored with a break-away. I’m delighted with the win.”