Match ends, Motherwell 0, Rangers 3.
Motherwell 0-3 Rangers: Scott Arfield hat-trick seals comfortable win
Scott Arfield scored a hat-trick as Rangers ruthlessly profited from some calamitous Motherwell defending at Fir Park.
Blunders at the back allowed Arfield to slam in two first-half strikes.
Jermain Defoe set up the third with an unselfish pass in front of goal after Ryan Jack seized on more slack play.
Rangers remain eight points clear of Kilmarnock and Aberdeen, while cutting Celtic's lead to 11 points with five matches remaining.
Motherwell, who had been looking for a sixth successive home win, stay eighth, one point behind St Johnstone, as the Premiership splits in two.
The worrying trend of crowd misconduct continued when a cigarette lighter from the John Hunter Stand was thrown in the direction of Rangers captain James Tavernier.
- Missile-throwing 'needs to stop' - Gerrard
- Gerrard praise for 'very clever' Arfield
- As it happened & reaction from Fir Park
Arfield punishes kamikaze defending
For a game that in the grand scheme of things meant little to either team - particularly the hosts who were already condemned to the bottom six - there was a fervour and ferocity pulsating through the opening stages.
Jake Hastie had two efforts off target to show for Motherwell's early pressure but that promising start will be a distant memory for the home support who watched on through cracks in their fingers at times as the hosts continually shot themselves in the foot.
Arfield was the chief protagonist for Rangers who took full advantage of this sloppiness during an industrious and clinical performance.
On 22 minutes, Rangers were allowed to build from the back without being pressured and when Defoe attempted a through ball to Arfield, Well centre-half Tom Aldred failed to cut it out, allowing the Canada international to lash the ball high into the net.
The midfielder's second goal six minutes before the break was also a gift. A poor pass to David Turnbull was pressured by Daniel Candeias. He fed Jack who in turn squared to Arfield to chip over Mark Gillespie.
Just prior to that, play was briefly halted as an object landed near Tavernier when attempting to take a throw-in.
Motherwell, again, made a bright start after the interval. However, the game was over after 60 minutes.
Goalkeeper Gillespie's poor ball out was lost by Alex Gorrin, and when Turnbull failed to win the ball back, Defoe broke free into the box to lay the ball off for Arfield to complete his hat-trick with a composed finish.
Motherwell tried to push for some way back into the game but still looked vulnerable at the back and Gillespie needed to pull off a point-blank save to deny Defoe after a Charles Dunne slip during a comfortable finale for the visitors.
Rangers respond impressively - analysis
Questions may well have been asked about how Steven Gerrard's side would react to last weekend's Old Firm defeat, given the late nature of it.
With the league pretty much gone, even with Celtic's slip up to Livingston on Saturday, the visit of Hearts before a trip to Fir Park wasn't the ideal follow up.
Yet, they have responded brilliantly, cruising to victories in both games. Yes, if Motherwell had been defensively solid, things could have been different here. But, given top-scorer Alfredo Morelos was missing and six goals were still scored, Gerrard can go into the split content his team are back on track.
For Motherwell, their bid to equal a 44-year record of six home wins in a row combusted in dramatic fashion. There were more than a few flashes of inspiration from the usual young suspects, and there may well be a more youthful look to the Lanarkshire side for the remainder of the season with safety assured.
- 14GrimshawBooked at 45mins
- 32HastieSubstituted forScottat 76'minutes
- 9MainBooked at 44minsSubstituted forCaddenat 65'minutes
- 12AriyibiSubstituted forFrearat 65'minutes
- 18KamaraSubstituted forHallidayat 84'minutes
- 10DavisSubstituted forGrezdaat 79'minutes
- 37ArfieldSubstituted forMcCrorieat 71'minutes
- Nick Walsh
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Motherwell 0, Rangers 3.
Foul by James Scott (Motherwell).
Nikola Katic (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Liam Grimshaw (Motherwell) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left.
Attempt missed. Alex Rodriguez (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.
Charles Dunne (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Ross McCrorie (Rangers).
Substitution, Rangers. Andy Halliday replaces Glen Kamara.
Foul by Richard Tait (Motherwell).
Daniel Candeias (Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by David Turnbull (Motherwell).
Eros Grezda (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Rangers. Eros Grezda replaces Steven Davis.
Attempt blocked. James Scott (Motherwell) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.
Tom Aldred (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Ryan Jack (Rangers).
Substitution, Motherwell. James Scott replaces Jake Hastie.
Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Alex Rodriguez.
Substitution, Rangers. Ross McCrorie replaces Scott Arfield.
Attempt missed. Jermain Defoe (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right.
Attempt blocked. Jermain Defoe (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Substitution, Motherwell. Elliott Frear replaces Gboly Ariyibi.
Substitution, Motherwell. Chris Cadden replaces Curtis Main.
Attempt missed. David Turnbull (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right from a direct free kick.
Curtis Main (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ryan Jack (Rangers).
Goal! Motherwell 0, Rangers 3. Scott Arfield (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jermain Defoe.
Attempt saved. Jake Hastie (Motherwell) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Second Half begins Motherwell 0, Rangers 2.
First Half ends, Motherwell 0, Rangers 2.
Alex Rodriguez (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Ryan Jack (Rangers).
Liam Grimshaw (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Liam Grimshaw (Motherwell).
Glen Kamara (Rangers) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Curtis Main (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Curtis Main (Motherwell).
Nikola Katic (Rangers) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Goal! Motherwell 0, Rangers 2. Scott Arfield (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Ryan Jack.