Motherwell 0-3 Rangers: Scott Arfield hat-trick strengthens visitors' grip on second
Steven Gerrard's side move eight points clear of Kilmarnock with win
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 07/04/19 5:34pm
Scott Arfield's first career hat-trick helped Rangers make it back-to-back wins following their Old Firm defeat, beating Motherwell 3-0 at Fir Park.
Arfield scored twice when Rangers thumped Motherwell 7-1 in November, and he latched onto Jermain Defoe's ball to break the deadlock after 22 minutes.
A mistake from David Turnbull allowed the former Burnley midfielder in for his second in the 39th minute, before Arfield completed his hat-trick after more selfless play from Defoe on the hour mark.
The result cements Rangers' position in second place, eight points ahead of Kilmarnock in third, while Motherwell remain in eighth place.
Motherwell: Gillespie (6), Grimshaw (5), Aldred (6), Dunne (6), Tait (6), Campbell (6), Rodriguez (5), Ariyibi (6), Turnbull (5), Hastie (5), Main (5).
Subs: Cadden (6), Frear (5), Scott (n/a)
Rangers: McGregor (7), Tavernier (7), Goldson (7), Katic (7), Flanagan (6), Jack (7), Kamara (7), Candeias (7), Davis (7), Arfield (9), Defoe (8).
Subs: Halliday (n/a), McCrorie (6), Grezda (n/a)
Man of the match: Scott Arfield.
Stephen Robinson's rejuvenated Motherwell passed up the chance to record a sixth straight home win for the first time in 44 years after playing a central role in their own downfall with some poor defending.
Meanwhile, there were more shameful scenes to add to Scotland's season of controversy when referee Nick Walsh had to briefly stop the first-half action to ask stewards and police to surround a group of Well fans after a lighter was hurled at Rangers captain James Tavernier.
Motherwell made one change from the side that were beaten by Aberdeen in midweek. Spanish midfielder Alex Gorrin came back into the side as Carl McHugh dropped to the bench.
Rangers made two changes as Nikola Katic and Daniel Candeias replaced Ryan Kent and Joe Worrall.
Without suspended top scorer Alfredo Morelos, Rangers looked short on a focal point. But out of nowhere they grabbed the opener as Motherwell self-destructed.
Tom Aldred got his feet in a muddle as he tried to cut out Defoe's through ball to Arfield and only succeeded in nudging it into the Rangers midfielder's path. Arfield could not believe his luck as he fired past Mark Gillespie.
The calamitous defending continued six minutes before half-time as the hosts gifted the visitors a second goal. Charles Dunne should have fired the ball down the line but instead gave it to Turnbull even though he was being closely marked by Daniel Candeias.
The winger was in like a flash to steal the ball and shift it to Ryan Jack, who teed up Arfield to net with the coolest of finishes.
Motherwell striker Jake Hastie had the chance to show Rangers what they were missing out on after they reportedly pulled the plug on a rumoured pre-contract agreement - but the youngster could only fire straight at Allan McGregor after cutting inside Glen Kamara.
Instead the plaudits went to Arfield as he completed his treble on the hour mark. Alex Gorrin was stripped of the ball and after Defoe stepped away from Turnbull, he unselfishly squared it for Arfield to complete his hat-trick.
Man of the match - Scott Arfield
Arfield was unplayable at times with his elusive movement behind Defoe, and the Canada international has now scored five goals against Motherwell this season - 50 per cent of his overall tally.
The 30-year-old was unable to affect matters a week ago in the Old Firm derby as he was booked before being replaced late on in the 2-1 defeat, but he has responded impressively with four goals in two games.
He told Sky Sports: "We played some lovely stuff, bit sloppy at times, but we looked to get forward to help Jermain as much as possible. I have to thank him for that, as I'm very lucky to do it. I'm buzzing about it."
Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson: "It's a hard one to take as we got punished for two individual errors in the first half. We had a lot of play in front of them without hurting them.
"We had control of the game but when you're playing against top-class players, as Arfield and Davis are, you get punished. On another day, maybe you don't get punished, but we did today.
"It won't mean we'll rip up what we're doing. We will continue to progress. All three of the goals are individual errors."
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard: "It was a good, solid away performance. I thought we showed some really good quality. I thought the first-half started pretty even, but when the ball turned over, we always had that threat around Jermain.
"Scott was really clinical in front of goal, and it was just a case of killing the game off. I've played against Scott many times in this position, so I have to thank Sean Dyche for the idea!
"You get a better view of the game from the stands, and what we needed to change. It was a different experience today but I have to be more responsible and make sure it doesn't happen too often."
Motherwell face Hamilton away at New Douglas Park while Rangers travel to face Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday April 20.