Burke gives grounds for optimism

Rangers 4 Motherwell 0
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The Independent Football

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder which is why Ibrox rose to acclaim the perfect 10 yesterday as Rangers tried to put an ugly season behind them. The deposed Scottish Premier League champions may have no silverware to comfort them but four goals in 10 minutes, either side of half-time, tore Motherwell apart to leave manager Terry Butcher still seeking his first win at the ground where he is still fêted for his role as captain in a more glorious era.

Yet, there was no hint of the goal rush in a pedestrian first half in which the most illuminating thing, once again, was Chris Burke. The tiny Rangers winger delivered a series of teasing crosses and had a shot saved by Gordon Marshall in the 20th minute that might have proved more menacing had Fernando Ricksen found him with the pass much earlier.

However, it was Marshall who unwittingly created Rangers' best chance. The goalkeeper snatched at a passback from Steven Craigan and sliced his clearance straight to Hamed Namouchi but Marshall recovered in time to beat out the volley from the Rangers midfielder.

Motherwell did not enter the final third of the pitch until 10 minutes before the interval when a sweeping move saw Alex Burns release Steven Craig but the striker's greed proved costly. Instead of electing to find the unmarked David Clarkson in the box, he went on his own and slashed a shot from an acute angle into the side netting.

That profligacy was punished in the 44th minute when Rangers earned a soft foul just outside the penalty area after Mikel Arteta went down theatrically as Derek Adams challenged him. This allowed the hitherto anonymous Spaniard to curl a perfect free-kick over the wall and into the roof of the net.

The first half had ended spitefully with Ricksen at the core of it all. The Dutchman was booked and the surprise was that he, and not Alan Hutton, was the man to make way for Maurice Ross when the second half started. The substitute took barely two minutes to make his mark.

Ross's fine run was rewarded with a measured pass from Burke. Ross tried to pick out Steven Thompson in the penalty box but his pass was cut out by Paul Quinn only for the ball to break back to Ross, who swept a low shot past Marshall.

Rangers stretched their lead further in the 50th minute when Frank de Boer threaded a weighted pass into the run of Namouchi, who eluded the ball-watching Motherwell defence and slid a composed finish beyond the keeper.

Barely four more minutes had elapsed before Rangers found the net again with a lovely goal. Paolo Vanoli's cross was met by Thompson, who planted an angled header past the overworked Marshall.

Rangers might have added more had it not been for Marshall. In contrast, Stefan Klos was virtually redundant at the other end but it is a measure of the German keeper that even though he had nothing to do for 85 minutes, time did not blunt his reactions as he denied Clarkson's fierce shot with an excellent save.

Rangers 4 Motherwell 0
Arteta 45, Ross 47, Namouchi 51, Thompson 55

Half-time: 1-0 Attendance: 47,579

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