Rangers 2-0 Motherwell: Gers pick up vital win ahead of Old Firm derby
Last Updated: 27/12/17 11:24pm
Birthday boy Danny Wilson helped gift Rangers a much-needed victory ahead of Saturday's Old Firm showdown as he set them on their way to a 2-0 Ibrox win over Motherwell.
The centre-back celebrated turning 26 with the opening goal 10 minutes after the break, while Alfredo Morelos put the seal on victory late on.
The Ibrox side looked nervy having thrown away leads against both St Johnstone and Kilmarnock but this time held on for a victory which keeps them six points behind second-placed Aberdeen.
But there was bad news for boss Graeme Murty as he prepares to face Celtic. Ryan Jack - just back after completing a three-game ban - was stretchered off seven minutes before the break and looks a major doubt to face the Hoops.
Motherwell are now eight games without a win and remain in eighth.
Murty called fringe-men Eduardo Herrera and Niko Kranjcar in from the cold along with the fit-again Bruno Alves but for 45 minutes no-one in blue appeared capable of providing a spark during a drab opening period.
While they edged the first-half chances, James Tavernier, Kranjcar, Morelos and Herrera all spurned the opportunities that fell their way.
With Stephen Robinson's well-drilled Fir Park outfit managing to frustrate the hosts, the groans from the Light Blues faithful began to sweep round Ibrox.
And there was a gasp of horror when Jack went down in a heap after colliding with Cedric Kipre.
With an already lengthy injury list, the last thing Murty needs is another absentee ahead of facing Brendan Rodgers' all-conquering Parkhead side at the weekend, but the signs did not look good as Jack was carried off, with Jamie Barjonas taking his place.
If Kipre's part in Jack's injury had been reckless, there looked to be a more sinister element involved as he planted his boot into Herrera's face moments later but referee John Beaton let him off with yellow when he could arguably have flashed red.
After the hold up for Jack's treatment the officials signalled eight minutes of injury time but it was the visitors who almost made the most of it as Allan Campbell fizzed across the face of goal just before the half-time whistle eventually sounded.
Gers fell apart against Kilmarnock after the half-time break but this time they responded with renewed vigour and got their rewards on 55 minutes.
Motherwell could only clear a Kranjcar corner to the edge of their box where Barjonas was lurking to knock back into the danger zone. Alves patted the ball down for Wilson, who smashed his third goal in six games into the top corner from 15 yards out.
Morelos wasted a great chance to double the lead on 70 minutes after being slotted through by Kranjcar as he fired straight at Trevor Carson.
But he did beat the Northern Irishman six minutes later as he squeezed a low drive into the far corner of the net from a tight angle to clinch the points.