Rangers delivered a knockout blow to high-flying Motherwell yesterday when they claimed all three points at Ibrox to keep the pressure on rivals Celtic in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
Daniel Cousin opened the scoring shortly before the break, before third-placed Motherwell hauled themselves back into the game through Paul Quinn. Chris Porter then bundled the ball into the back of his own net, with a last-gasp strike from Kris Boyd the icing on the cake for Rangers.
Boyd had looked lively after coming off the bench at Aberdeen, but again had to settle for the role of substitute as Walter Smith kept faith with Cousin, making just one change from the 1-1 draw at Pittodrie.
Chris Burke was the surprise inclusion, making only his third appearance and second start of the season in place of the suspended Lee McCulloch. And it was from a Burke corner that Rangers came close to opening the scoring. An inswinger found Carlos Cuellar only for his header to crash off the underside of the bar.
The breakthrough eventually came four minutes before the break. Barry Ferguson's flick was cleared off the line by Quinn and the ball broke to Steven Whittaker. His cross from the left found Cousin and the striker delivered a low angled drive which left goalkeeper Graeme Smith with no chance.
Motherwell had the bulk of the chances, as well as an unsuccessful penalty claim, after the restart. Steven McGarry's shot on the turn appeared to strike the arm of David Weir but the referee Steve Conroy signalled for play to continue. Motherwell finally levelled the score after 64 minutes when Ross McCormack's corner was met by Quinn.
Rangers immediately tried to restore their advantage and Cousin came close to claiming his second of the day but was denied by the crossbar. When the goal did arrive, it came from an unlikely source with 21 minutes to go. Adam's corner into the box was flicked on by Cousin and Porter was in the wrong place at the wrong time to bundle into the back of his own net. Boyd grabbed a goal of his own in injury time, meeting Burke's pass and sliding it under Smith.
Goals: Cousin 42 (1-0); Quinn 65 (1-1); Porter 70 og (2-1); Boyd 90 (3-1).
Rangers: McGregor, Hutton, Cuellar, Weir, Whittaker, Burke, Ferguson, Thomson, Adam, Naismith (Buffel 64), Cousin (Boyd 75). Substitutes not used: Carroll (gk), Ehiogu, Hemdani, Lennon, Furman.
Motherwell: Graeme Smith, Quinn, Craigan, Reynolds, Paterson, McGarry (Darren Smith 64), Hughes, O'Donnell, McCormack, Porter, Clarkson (Murphy 83). Substitutes not used: Meldrum (gk), Corrigan, Brian McLean, Lasley, Fitzpatrick.
Referee: S Conroy (Scotland)
Booked: Rangers Hutton. Motherwell Craigan, O'Donnell, Paterson.
Man of the match: Burke.