Rangers 2-0 Motherwell

By Alasdair LamontBBC Scotland at Ibrox Stadium
Highlights - Rangers 2-0 Motherwell

Rangers produced their best performance of the season to knock Scottish Premier League leaders Motherwell out of the Scottish Communities League Cup.

After an even first period, Lee McCulloch headed the home side in front early in the second half.

Shortly afterwards Dean Shiels struck a low volley past Darren Randolph from 12 yards out.

Neil Alexander saved brilliantly from Tom Hateley but Rangers were good value for their victory.

It delighted the vast majority of the fans inside Ibrox, who had spent chunks of the night deriding the SPL.

Rangers forward Dean Shiels
Shiels set up the first and scored the second

Rangers looked like they meant business from the off, with Shiels sliding in to a first-minute challenge to release Fraser Aird, but Francisco Sandaza just failed to convert the youngster's cross.

Motherwell looked startled by the intensity of that start, but gradually eased their way into the game, with Hateley's 25-yard drive forcing Alexander to look lively.

Both sides were reduced to 10 men for a lengthy period midway through the first half, following a nasty clash of heads between Sandaza and Shaun Hutchison.

Sandaza was unable to continue and was replaced by Kyle Hutton while Hutchison, who was taken up the Ibrox tunnel looking like an extra from a Wes Craven movie, returned after several minutes of treatment.

McCulloch should have given the home side the lead on 28 minutes following terrific work by Shiels down the left.

The Northern Irishman slipped the ball through the legs of Hutchison before squaring for his captain, who made it too easy for Randolph to gather with a shot straight at him from 12 yards.

Motherwell spurned a great chance of their own 10 minutes before the break.

Nicky Law was released by a quickly-taken free-kick, but as Alexander rushed way out of his box in what looked a dangerous ploy, the keeper nicked the ball away from the midfielder as he tried to take it round him.

Interview - Rangers manager Ally McCoist

The huge Ibrox crowd got what it had been waiting for five minutes after the interval.

A short corner was taken to Shiels and his whipped cross found McCulloch, who had shaken off his marker to head in from six yards.

Moments later, Aird cut in from the left before flashing a shot across the face of goal as Rangers sought to build on their momentum.

And they did just that on 56 minutes as Anestis Argyriou pulled a cross from the right back for Shiels, who volleyed sweetly low past Randolph from near the penalty spot.

Motherwell thought they had pulled a goal back four minutes later, as Hateley swung a free-kick across goal. It was heading in at the back post but Alexander did remarkably to get down to his left to maintain the two-goal lead.

Interview - Motherwell manager Stuart McCall

Aird, making his first start for Rangers, came close to capping a good performance with a goal, weaving past a couple of challenges, but his final effort was kept out by the legs of Randolph.

Henrik Ojaama was foiled by Alexander as Motherwell tried to claw their way back into the game, while Rangers substitute Barrie NcKay brought out two decent stops from Randolph.

The Motherwell manager Stuart McCall had questioned the notion that his side were pre-match favourites, and he was proved correct as they tumbled out to the Third Division team.

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