Rangers 3-0 Motherwell: Alfredo Morelos stars in Rangers victory

Rangers 3-0 Motherwell: Alfredo Morelos stars with a goal and assist with Connor Goldson and Malik Tillman also scoring to help Michael Beale’s side keep the gap to Celtic to nine points in the Scottish Premiership

  • Rangers cast aside Motherwell with a 3-0 victory on Wednesday at the Ibrox 
  • Alfredo Morelos starred with a goal and an assist for Michael Beale’s side
  • READ: Late Scott Arfield brace sees Rangers clinch comeback against Aberdeen

For Michael Beale the challenges of managing Rangers are multiple. Few are as pressing or critical as ensuring Alfredo Morelos is fit and firing for the visit of Celtic on Monday.

It’s been some months since the Colombian felt like a figurehead around Ibrox. This time last season the talisman and cult fans favourite sat on 13 goals and remained potent spearhead for the Ibrox attack.

Heading into the final six months of his contract, this season has been a very different story.

Alfredo Morelos scored in the first half before turning provider for Malik Tillman in the second

Questions have been asked of the striker’s fitness and shape. His desire and attitude has left much to be desired. Managers can’t be 100% sure that his heart is still in it.

On Wednesday night came the latest sign of a fire being lit by the new incumbent ahead of a must-win Old Firm clash with Celtic. Morelos scored against Hibs in Beale’s first game in charge and repeated the feat here before limping gingerly from the fray after treatment with 19 minutes to play.

Rangers vs Motherwell Match Facts

RANGERS (4-3-3): McGregor 5; Tavernier 6 (Devine 66 3), Goldson 7, Davies 6, Barisic 6 ; Jack 6 (Kamara 66 3), Lowry 5 (Sakala 66 3) , Lundstram 5 (Sands 66 3) ; Tillman 7, Morelos 7 (Matondo 69) , Kent 7.

Subs: McLaughlin, Sands, Wright, Arfield, King

Goals: Morelos, Goldson, Tillman 

Booked: Tillman

MOTHERWELL: (4-3-3): Kelly 5 ; O’Donnell 5 , Lamie 5, Slattery 4 (Miller 65 3) , Cornelius , McGinn ; Cornelius , Penney , Goss ; Shields 4 (Tierney 65) , McKinstry 4 (Van Veen 60), Spittal 5 (Ross 2 81)

Subs: Oxborough, Maguire,, Spiers

Booked: Lamie, Slattery

Referee: David Dickinson

Att: 49605

Star Man: Alfredo Morelos

After a spell of treatment and Colombian’s fifth goal of the season in only his fourth league start, Rangers supporters must hope it’s nothing serious. The return to fitness of Antonio Colak and Kemar Roofe offers insurance, yet when Morelos ghosted in to bury the first Rangers chance of the night after 14 minutes from a Borna Barisic cross it felt like old times.

Connor Goldson’s looping header from a James Tavernier corner before half-time effectively ended the game as a contest. Just as Motherwell looked like making a fist of things Malik Tillman’s clinical finish after 63 minutes made it four wins in a row under new boss Beale. Game number five will surely bring the sternest test yet.

The last time Motherwell won at Ibrox in the top flight was 25 years ago, when Mitchell van der Gaag, Brian Martin and Tommy Coyne were Fir Park stalwarts and Owen Coyle scored both goals. Against Celtic and Rangers runs like that are becoming commonplace and, despite Motherwell’s bright start before the Rangers goal, they lacked the quality and self belief to replicate the feat of back to back draws on their last two visits to Govan.

Early chances to send some title jitters around the expectant home crowd were passed up. Connor Shields, leading the line in the absence of the under-the-weather Kevin van Veen, won the break of the ball against Ben Davies on the the halfway line and got to the ball ahead of Allan McGregor as the Rangers keeper raced from his line. Rangers defenders prevented a clean strike at goal from the scrambling striker and, minutes later, Ibrox held its breath once more when Malik Tillman was booked for a trip on Stuart McKinstrey dangerously close to the 18 yard line.

The tension proved short-lived. Making his first appearance for the first team since a late cameo in the Champions League defeat to Ajax in November, young midfielder Alex Lowry was a middle man in the move which saw Barisic swing in a cross for Morelos to peel off and bury the first goal with his head. It was the first real Rangers attempt on goal and summed up the difference between the two teams in key areas.

Keeping the Colombian striker fit for Celtic’s visit is one of Michael Beale’s more pressing concerns

Rangers could have killed the game stone dead before half-time. John Lundstram’s shot was charged down, falling favourably for Tillman to balloon the ball over the bar from close range.

What a chance Dean Cornelius missed to level for Motherwell after 34 minutes. Matthew Penney’s cross from the left flank was headed straight into the path of the midfielder as he raced in on goal. A decent first touch would have teed up a real chance for a strike on goal. A heavy one gave Rangers defenders the time to close down and the strike at goal was blocked. When they needed it most Motherwell, again, lacked the quality to make a game of things.

Out of contract in the summer Motherwell keeper Liam Kelly is expected to rejoin Rangers, the club where he started his career. There were times when the Scotland man looked like a nervous trialist, lacking his normal assurance.

Connor Goldson netted in the 39th minute from a Borna Barisic assist – the defender’s second of the night

First, he spilled James Tavernier’s free-kick from 18 yards, gathering at the second attempt. Then came a second Rangers goal before half-time when, harshly or otherwise, he might feel he should have done better.

From a meat and drink Borna Barisic corner Connor Goldson went up with Rickie Lamie. It was to be sure which defender the ball came off last. Either way it sciffed off the underside of the crossbar and into the net. A looping effort lacking any real power the ball just seemed to drop over the head of the keeper.

Motherwell could be grateful for small mercies. Showing signs of having his hunger and mojo back Morelos might have made it 3-0 before half-time when a through ball was brilliantly backheeled into the path of the opening goalscorer by Malik Tillman. The striker smashed it low, Kelly redeeming himself for a soft second goal by preventing a terrific third with his legs.

Malik Tillman scored his side’s third goal on a dominant evening for the hosts at the Ibrox

With bigger tests on he horizon Michael Beale had a decision to make at half-time. Stick or twist?

Beale has won four successive matches

The arrival of Kevin van Veen, scorer of Motherwell’s two goals in the weekend draw with Kilmarnock, focussed minds a little after a comatose start to the second half.

Morelos showed great upper body strength to find the space to backheel a bouncing ball towards goal, Rickie Lamie clearing off the line.

A third goal was pretty much in the post. Malik Tillman, a player with the pedigree and quality to cause Celtic problems, gathered in space on the right side of the area and patiently waited his time before driving a low strike into the bottom corner of the net through the legs of full-back Matthew Penney

The points secure Beale had the luxury of a quadruple substitution, removing Tavernier, Ryan Jack, John Lundstram and young Lowry from the fray. In contrast, the replacement of Morelos moments later was unplanned and, with Celtic up next, untimely.

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