According to manager Philippe Clement, Rangers had to “struggle and fight” to defeat Motherwell and close the gap to two points over Celtic with a game in hand.
After only three minutes, Kieran Dowell provided the Rangers with an ideal start by collaborating with Cyriel Dessers on a one-two before slamming past Liam Kelly in windy and damp conditions.
Following 16 minutes, the visitors increased their lead with an additional magnificent team goal, which was stroked into the bottom corner by Todd Cantwell after Abdallah Sima chested it down.
Kelly should have scored more goals, as Cyriel Dessers twice attempted to enter the net but was deemed offside on both occasions in the second half.
Motherwell have gone fifteen games without a victory in the Scottish Premiership and never appeared to be able to regain the competition. At the basement of the standings, they are five points ahead of Livingston.
The Rangers completed their tasks in advance. Two goals early on calmed any concerns, whereas Motherwell presented an insurmountable obstacle that prevented the game from becoming competitive.
Dowell did his job well. Under pressure from Rangers, the English midfielder picked up Harry Paton’s ball and calmly collected the rebound. Cantwell’s finish was amazing. Sima chested the ball into the path of the opponent, who scored his first league goal of the season after Ridvan Yilmaz’s cross rebounded at the edge of the box.
The Scotland international deflected Cantwell’s speculative volley onto the crossbar. Notably more difficult was the second half for Clement’s squad. Brodie Spencer missed Jack Butland with a header when he ought to have at least challenged him, and Yilmaz challenged him in the penalty area. No penalty; the decision was correct.
Yilmaz, scurrying forward, assisted Rangers in penetrating Kelly in the second half, putting Dessers through on goal. Despite the Nigerian forward’s strong finish, the flag was raised.
With composure, he executed the feat once more in the dying embers, rounding the custodian and tucking in the ball. A glance across, a sardonic grin, and the flag of an assistant fluttering in the breeze.
Three points, walking away, and Christmas with your feet up. The majority of Rangers supporters will feel this way following a decisive victory at Fir Park. Their rapid start posed a threat of a rout, but they were unable to effectively put the game to bed as they squandered a number of opportunities.
A little more clinicalness may be desired by Clement as the campaign progresses. It is a harsh criticism, but in their last ten matches, they have struck no more than twice, and that was against Real Betis and Dundee. Motherwell’s wretched run at this point appeared unlikely to come to an end, and it never appeared that they would.
They conceded the ball in their own half and failed to close down Cantwell with seven or eight defenders in the box, which led to their relatively easy defeats.
The side captained by Stuart Kettlewell will not have Old Firm contests as defining moments of the season, but they are only two points ahead of where they were last year. As the longest winless streak by a team in the top division since 2017 continues, they had no shots on target. The statistics are warning.