Naismith sparks Rangers revival

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The Independent Football

A sudden flurry of accomplishment, that caused Motherwell to relinquish their shape and resolve, revived Rangers' sense of certainty. They had been sluggish and bereft for long enough that this burst of goals came with a sense of relief.

For the third consecutive League game, Rangers fell behind, but they are durable in spirit and responded well in the second half. In front of the watching Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, they maintained their 100 per cent record, returned to the top of the Scottish Premier League, and challenged the Parkhead side to do the same at Dundee United today.

Already, next Sunday's Old Firm game at Celtic Park seems defined by a great weight of significance. Rangers will have to play with greater poise and drive than they did here. They were almost idle in the way that they performed in the first half, ponderous and careless in much of their distribution. Being merely diligent allowed Motherwell to nurse their own ambitions.

In the 44th minute, Jamie Murphy was deft enough to outwit Steven Whittaker, then deliver a deep cross that Nick Blackman converted.

The half-time interval brought the inevitable resurgence to the home side, no doubt fuelled by the ire of Walter Smith, the Rangers manager. Within two minutes, Steven Naismith had bundled the ball beyond Darren Randolph, the Motherwell goal-keeper, to equalise.

Having shrugged off their aimlessness, Rangers gradually assumed control of the game. Motherwell had been defiant enough, but as the hosts found an edge, the visitors cast aside their composure.

First, Steven Davis gathered the ball 30 yards out, surged towards the penalty area, then unleashed a drive that dipped beyond Randolph. Three minutes later, Naismith jinked into the box before crossing for Kenny Miller to score with a diving header. And two minutes later, Kyle Laffertyreleased Vladimir Weiss, who dodged around Randolph and slid the ball into the net.

It was a crisp, almost brutal rebuff to their first-half display, and enough to overwhelm the visitors. "We weren't resolute enough," said Craig Brown, the Motherwell manager. "There are too many nice guys in our team, we need an evil streak."