Motherwell 1-2 Rangers: McCulloch nets late winner to further delay Celtic title party

Ally McCoist thrilled with the result after his side fight back after conceding an early goal at Fir Park to take all three points with late winner
A last-gasp winner from Lee McCulloch handed Rangers all three points at Fir Park as the visitors came from a goal behind to beat Motherwell.

An early goal from Henrik Ojamaa handed the home side a dream start but they were immediately pegged back by a wonderful goal by Steven Whittaker.

Rangers snatched all three points at the death when Lee McCulloch swept the ball into the net from Andrew Little’s throw-in.

Motherwell came into the match knowing three points would bring them level on points with the visitors. Rangers, meanwhile, knew that anything other than a win would present Celtic with the opportunity of wrapping up the SPL title on Sunday.

Motherwell manager Stuart McCall made one change to the side that lost to Kilmarnock last time out with Keith Lasley back in the starting line-up after missing two games with suspension, Stuart Carswell dropped to the bench.

Ally McCoist made two changes to the side who won last week’s Old Firm derby. Kyle Bartley and Ross Perry come in for the suspended Carlos Bocanegra and injured Rhys McCabe. McCoist handed Lee McCulloch the chance to lead the line again in attack.

The match kicked-off at a high tempo with Motherwell looking better on the ball in the early stages.

The home side took advantage of their wonderful start through Henrik Ojamaa who found the back of the net with the first chance of the game. Chris Humphrey showed great pace to burst down the right-hand side and his cutback was swept home by the late-arriving Ojamaa in the seventh minute.

It was only a matter of moments later that a wonder strike from 30 yards out by Steven Whittaker brought the visitors level. Motherwell goalkeeper Darren Randolph was left rooted to his spot as Whittaker’s unstoppable left-footed strike nestled in the bottom corner.

The match entered a lull following the two early goals with both sides perhaps cautious of conceding another. The Fir Park crowd were waiting for a moment of quality to spark the match back to life.

That moment of quality came in the 22nd minute when Nicky Law was played through after patient build-up from Motherwell. It was Ojamaa’s reverse pass through to Law whose shot was turned away by the outrushing Allan McGregor.

Fifteen minutes from the interval came a turning point in the game. Sone Aluko was left incensed at being denied a penalty and was shown a yellow card for diving. A miscommunication between Randolph and Tim Clancy allowed Aluko to sneak in and get a touch on the ball before being brought down by the Motherwell keeper. Ian Brines waved away the Rangers protest but a yellow card for Aluko was perhaps a bit harsh.

Rangers pressed for a goal as the match approached half-time but never really looked like taking the lead before the break.

The second half began how the first half ended, with the visitors pressing high up the pitch hoping to force Motherwell into a mistake in their own half.

Dorin Goian came close to snatching a lead for Rangers in the 49th minute but he could only direct Steven Davis’ dangerous delivery into the path of Randolph.

A minute later Lasley found himself with a yard of space to shoot from the edge of the area but his strike only stung the fingertips of McGregor as Motherwell enjoyed a short period of possession.

McCoist introduced Kyle Lafferty into the action, replacing Sasa Papac, as Rangers tried to regain the attacking impetus they enjoyed early in the half.

Lafferty almost made an impact shortly after coming on when he managed to win the ball and shrug off a challenge on the byline but his low cross was blocked at the near post much to the frustration of McCoist.

Aluko again proved to be the most dangerous player on the pitch when he earned a free-kick in a dangerous position following a mazy run, but Davis’ effort sailed disappointingly over the bar.

Rangers were well on top by the 75th minute and were twice denied a goal by last ditch defending by the home side. Both Aluko and Lafferty had shots blocked from close range inside the penalty area.

The visitors' could have easily gone a goal behind had it not been for a fine reflex save by McGregor in the 81st minute. Michael Higdon’s first-time strike from inside the area was brilliantly palmed away by the Rangers goalkeeper.

Lafferty forced a save from Randolph late on with a low shot which proved awkward for the keeper to handle.

Randolph again denied Aluko late on but couldn’t keep out MCulloch from the resulting throw-in. Motherwell who defended resolutely for the entire match failed to clear substitute Little’s throw in allowing McCulloch to sweep the ball into the net in the 89th minute for a late winner.