Football: Laudrup the laudable

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The Independent Online
Rangers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Hateley 44, Ferguson 87

Motherwell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Coyne pen 48

Attendan ce: 43,750

THE EARLY indications must be disturbing for Rangers supporters, who have been fed a diet of rich success for the past six years. Having watched the sixth successive championship flag being run up the pole, the Ibrox faithful were wondering if they would see a seventh.

Already alarmed by what could prove to have been aserious malfunction in the first leg of their European Cup preliminary tie in Greece last Wednesday, they were stunned to see their side begin the domestic season with the same indecision which allowed AEK Athens to take a 2-0 lead in that tie. The manner in which they dealt with the threat of Motherwell, who were reduced to 10 men midway through the first half when Rab Shannon was dismissed for his second caution, suggests this will be another year of living dangerously.

At least there was evidence that Rangers have bought wisely with both their summer signings, Basile Boli and Brian Laudrup, making encouraging Premier Division debuts. Indeed, it was the speed and intelligence of Laudrup which engineered both Rangers goals.

A minute from the interval he took possession on the right and delivered an early cross to Mark Hateley, who dived between two defenders and headed into the net.

Motherwell, under their new manager Alex McLeish, resumed in determined mood and scored in 47 minutes. Richard Gough was penalised, harshly, for leaning on Brian Martin to head clear from Rangers' box and a penalty was given. Tommy Coyne, the former Celtic player, took great delight in putting the ball in the net off Andy Goram's left-hand post. However, it was another stunning contribution from Laudrup which secured victory.

Three minutes from the end the Dane ran from the half- way line and away from several defenders before rolling the ball into the path of Duncan Ferguson, a first-half substitute for Ally McCoist, who strained a calf and is likely to miss Rangers' crucial return tie with AEK Athens a week on Wednesday. Ferguson, who cost pounds 4m last year, proceeded to score only his second goal for the club.