Rangers thrash Motherwell to go four points clear at top

, Rangers thrash Motherwell to go four points clear at top, The Evepost BBC News
, Rangers thrash Motherwell to go four points clear at top, The Evepost BBC News
Fashion Sakala stretched to finish for Rangers’ fifth goal and his hat-trick

Fashion Sakala scored a hat-trick as Rangers powered past 10-man Motherwell to stretch their Scottish Premiership lead to four points.

Bevis Mugabi squeezed the hosts in front but Rangers captain James Tavernier stroked in a superb volley and then crossed for Sakala to turn the game around on half-time.

Sakala added further strikes either side of Glen Kamara’s fine goal in the second half with Motherwell captain Stephen O’Donnell sent off at 3-1. Kemar Roofe rounded off a thumping win.

The victory means Steven Gerrard’s side are four points clear of second-place Celtic, with Hearts and Dundee United also dropping points this weekend. The bruising loss keeps Motherwell seventh.

Rangers initially produced their archetypal league display so far as they conceded first for the ninth time in all competitions and third time in a week in the Premiership, only to shake themselves to life and turn the game in style.

A defensive mix-up between Tavernier and Connor Goldson from a long ball led to an unnecessary corner, from which Sondre Solholm Johansen forced Allan McGregor into a fine stop only for Mugabi to turn the ball into the far corner on the rebound.

Mugabi was key to Motherwell’s response in defence as he consistently repelled crosses into the box, but eventually Rangers were able to free their full-backs to cause problems and turn the tide.

First, left-back Calvin Bassey was allowed to swing a high ball in which found Tavernier at the back post, and he composed himself impressively to take it first time and drill into the far corner.

It was a sumptuous strike, and it roused Rangers before the break as Motherwell toiled. After surviving one scare in the box, they allowed Tavernier room on the right to land the ball on Sakala’s head and the Zambian striker planted it beyond Liam Kelly.

Having started brightly, Motherwell lost their way and were kept at arm’s length by a dominant Rangers performance.

Sakala eventually netted the third goal with a strike on the edge of the box that struck Mugabi and flew past Kelly in the Motherwell goal.

And things were to get worse for Motherwell as O’Donnell – booked in the first half for holding back Sakala – was dismissed after a late tackle on Bassey, before Kamara drove home from the edge of the box to grab his first goal of the season.

Sakala was enjoying a rare start and made sure he will be in firm contention to start against Brondby in the Europa League as he pounced from close range to tap in from Steven Davis’ cross to grab a hat-trick.

And top scorer Roofe capped a fine victory by stabbing home after fellow substitute Jack Simpson flicked on Tavernier’s corner.

Man of the match – Fashion Sakala

, Rangers thrash Motherwell to go four points clear at top, The Evepost BBC News
Sakala not only took his goals well, but was lively in recording five key passes and the most shots of any Rangers player. He just gets the nod from the outstanding Tavernier.

What did we learn?

This was more like it from Rangers. They have been effective enough so far this season while being much more vulnerable at the back and less threatening in front of goal than last term.

It is unfair to expect them to repeat last term’s 102-point season, but they looked far more like the team who strolled to the title.

Tavernier was outstanding, his goal and assist completing flipping the momentum when Rangers were being frustrated by Motherwell.

It laid the platform for a more vibrant performance, and they cut loose after O’Donnell’s sending off. Sakala’s performance was a huge positive for Gerrard, who needed his new signing to step up and provide a more direct threat in the absence of Ryan Kent.

In the context of the title race, a thumping win also felt significant. Celtic had the chance to go top of the league, but missed a stoppage-time penalty, while Rangers were ruthless. There is a long way to go – and the slow opening 35 minutes will not be forgotten by Gerrard – but perhaps this is a turning point.

As for Motherwell, it was a day to forget. Scoring early gave them something to hold on to, but as soon as they scored they stopped getting up the pitch and were constantly hemmed in.

A change at the start of the second half probably should have been made quicker in order to give Rangers something to think about, but by the time Kevin van Veen came on, Sakala had effectively ended the game with Rangers’ third goal.

O’Donnell’s red card left an already creaking back line vulnerable, and they were ruthlessly exposed. It’s now five defeats in six for Graham Alexander’s men. They need to recapture some their efficiency in attack and hold on to the ball better.

What they said

Motherwell manager Graham Alexander: “For 42 minutes the game went how we wanted to. We defended our half really well, had chances to score and did score. But the two goals just before half time. The first one was a world class finish. When they score from those sort of angles your hold your hands up.

“We’re all very disappointed to say the least. There’s a long way to go this season, we’ve done some good things, we have to learn what we can from that spell when the result was in the balance.”

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard on Sky Sports: “I think that’s been coming, it’s almost been in the post. We’ve been waiting for that performance for some time. It was back to our identity. I thought we were an inch away from being perfect today, all round we were superb.

“Fashion’s been waiting to do that. He’s shown glimpses, he’s shown flashes. He’s gone and delivered for his team today.”

What’s next?

Motherwell are away to Aberdeen in the Premiership on Saturday (15:00 GMT), while Rangers face a trip to Denmark to face Brondby in the Europa League on Thursday (17:45) followed by a home match in the league against Ross County on Sunday (15:00).

Player of the match

SakalaFashion Sakala

with an average of 8.64

Motherwell

  1. Squad number5Player nameMugabi

    Average rating

    5.69

  2. Squad number1Player nameKelly

    Average rating

    5.31

  3. Squad number2Player nameO’Donnell

    Average rating

    5.25

  4. Squad number28Player nameRoberts

    Average rating

    4.84

  5. Squad number32Player nameWatt

    Average rating

    4.82

  6. Squad number16Player nameSlattery

    Average rating

    4.76

  7. Squad number21Player nameSolholm Johansen

    Average rating

    4.73

  8. Squad number27Player nameGoss

    Average rating

    4.71

  9. Squad number8Player nameO’Hara

    Average rating

    4.67

  10. Squad number29Player nameShields

    Average rating

    4.66

  11. Squad number19Player nameMcGinley

    Average rating

    4.45

  12. Squad number6Player nameMaguire

    Average rating

    4.22

  13. Squad number4Player nameLamie

    Average rating

    4.06

  14. Squad number9Player namevan Veen

    Average rating

    4.05

Rangers

  1. Squad number30Player nameSakala

    Average rating

    , Rangers thrash Motherwell to go four points clear at top, The Evepost BBC News

    8.64

  2. Squad number2Player nameTavernier

    Average rating

    7.78

  3. Squad number10Player nameDavis

    Average rating

    7.75

  4. Squad number18Player nameKamara

    Average rating

    7.57

  5. Squad number17Player nameAribo

    Average rating

    7.54

  6. Squad number25Player nameRoofe

    Average rating

    7.16

  7. Squad number3Player nameBassey

    Average rating

    7.06

  8. Squad number26Player nameBalogun

    Average rating

    7.03

  9. Squad number23Player nameWright

    Average rating

    6.99

  10. Squad number37Player nameArfield

    Average rating

    6.99

  11. Squad number1Player nameMcGregor

    Average rating

    6.80

  12. Squad number20Player nameMorelos

    Average rating

    6.69

  13. Squad number15Player nameSimpson

    Average rating

    6.58

  14. Squad number6Player nameGoldson

    Average rating

    6.54

Line-ups

Motherwell

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Kelly
  • 2O’DonnellBooked at 67mins
  • 5MugabiBooked at 76mins
  • 21Solholm Johansen
  • 19McGinley
  • 16SlatterySubstituted forMaguireat 82′minutes
  • 8O’Hara
  • 27Goss
  • 28RobertsSubstituted forLamieat 72′minutes
  • 29ShieldsSubstituted forvan Veenat 65′minutes
  • 32Watt

Substitutes

  • 3Carroll
  • 4Lamie
  • 6Maguire
  • 7Woolery
  • 9van Veen
  • 12Fox
  • 23Grimshaw

Rangers

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1McGregor
  • 2Tavernier
  • 6Goldson
  • 26BalogunSubstituted forSimpsonat 78′minutes
  • 3Bassey
  • 37Arfield
  • 10Davis
  • 18Kamara
  • 17AriboSubstituted forWrightat 82′minutes
  • 20MorelosSubstituted forRoofeat 72′minutes
  • 30Sakala

Substitutes

  • 4Lundstram
  • 7Hagi
  • 15Simpson
  • 16Patterson
  • 23Wright
  • 25Roofe
  • 33McLaughlin

Referee:
Nick Walsh

Match Stats

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Motherwell 1, Rangers 6.

  2. Second Half ends, Motherwell 1, Rangers 6.

  3. Offside, Rangers. Kemar Roofe tries a through ball, but Scott Wright is caught offside.

  4. Goal! Motherwell 1, Rangers 6. Kemar Roofe (Rangers) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jack Simpson following a corner.

  5. Attempt blocked. Jack Simpson (Rangers) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by James Tavernier with a cross.

  6. Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Liam Kelly.

  7. Attempt saved. Scott Wright (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Glen Kamara.

  8. Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Sean Goss.

  9. Attempt missed. James Tavernier (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Fashion Sakala with a cross.

  10. Goal! Motherwell 1, Rangers 5. Fashion Sakala (Rangers) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Steven Davis with a through ball.

  11. Offside, Rangers. Fashion Sakala tries a through ball, but Kemar Roofe is caught offside.

  12. Attempt saved. Kemar Roofe (Rangers) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by James Tavernier with a cross.

  13. Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Nathan McGinley.

  14. Substitution, Motherwell. Barry Maguire replaces Callum Slattery.

  15. Substitution, Rangers. Scott Wright replaces Joe Aribo.

  16. Fashion Sakala (Rangers) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  17. Foul by Callum Slattery (Motherwell).

  18. Attempt blocked. Joe Aribo (Rangers) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by James Tavernier.

  19. Attempt blocked. Kemar Roofe (Rangers) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Glen Kamara.

  20. Substitution, Rangers. Jack Simpson replaces Leon Balogun.