Novo's 'passion' fires Rangers

Rangers 4 - Motherwell 1
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The Independent Football

Nacho Novo celebrated his brief moment of liberty yesterday by scoring twice at Ibrox to keep Rangers on Celtic's coat-tails in the Scottish Premier League title race.

The Spaniard took his haul to 17 goals in an impressive rout of Motherwell, but Rangers manager Alex McLeish will be denied Novo's services for the next two games as he finishes the ban imposed for his violent conduct in last month's Old Firm encounter.

However, more alarming to the home fans was the sight of Jean-Alain Boumsong disappearing up the tunnel before a ball had even been kicked. The Frenchman pulled his hamstring in the warm-up and the feeling in Glasgow is that Boumsong could have played his last game before his seemingly inevitable move to Newcastle United.

However, Novo is possibly even more priceless to them. "He has a passion for goals," said McLeish, who insisted that Boumsong "remains a Rangers player, hopefully for the foreseeable future".

Novo killed this contest within 14 minutes. He reacted quickly when Fernando Ricksen's ball into the box after just two minutes was not cleared, and bundled the ball in with his back to goal.

Novo's pace secured his next goal, latching on to Shota Arverladze's flick-on and steering a right-foot shot beyond exposed goalkeeper Barry-John Corr.

Motherwell cut the deficit in the 48th minute with a sublime goal from Scott McDonald, who dribbled across the edge of the box before bending a right-foot shot beyond Stefan Klos.

Novo responded four minutes later, threading a pass to Arveladze to allow the striker to steer his shot past Corr. Substitute Steven Thompson added the fourth in the 86th minute.

Rangers (4-3-3): Klos; Hutton, Andrews, Khizanishvili, Vignal; Ricksen, Malcolm, Mladenovic (Rae, 60); Novo, Prso (Thompson, 76), Arveladze. Substitutes not used: G Smith (gk), Ross, Namouchi, S Smith, Hughes.

Motherwell (4-4-2): Corr; Quinn, Craigan, Partridge, Hammell; McBride, Corrigan, Fitzpatrick (Wright, 72), Paterson; McDonald (Burns, 72), Foran. Substitutes not used: Ewings (gk), Cowan, Fagan, Kinniburgh, Keogh.

Referee: A Freeland.