Rangers vs Motherwell match report: Darren McGregor header gifts Gers a late lifeline in first leg of Scottish Premiership play-off final

Rangers 1 Motherwell 3: The fallen Glasgow giants were initially blown away by the visitors

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A late header from Darren McGregor gave Rangers hope of returning to the Scottish Premiership for the first time in three years, after they were initially blown away by Motherwell.

Ian Baraclough’s top-flight side, without a victory at Ibrox in 18 years, had surged into a three-goal lead in the first leg of the Scottish Premiership play-off final, as the hosts struggled to deal with the fervent expectation of a 49,000 home crowd.

Having squeezed past both Queen of the South and Hibernians by a single goal to reach this stage, Stuart McCall’s side began confidently but were unable to make the breakthrough, with Scott McDonald impressing for the visitors.

George Long denied Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller also went close from distance but Motherwell prospered on the counter-attack. Lee Erwin’s shot from close range after cutting in was deflected past Cammy Bell by McGregor, before Stephen McManus doubled the advantage before half-time with a header into the far corner from a Marvin Johnson cross.

The interval brought little respite for Rangers, who fell three behind within two minutes of the restart when Lionel Ainsworth swept in.

A late header from McGregor – who will be suspended for the second leg – generated a raucous atmosphere for the final 10 minutes, but it is Motherwell who will be favoured to prevail when the sides reconvene at Fir Park on Sunday.