Rangers drop Motherwell to set final against Celtic

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Rangers drop Motherwell to set final against Celtic

GLASGOW - Rangers set up a mouth-watering Old Firm League Cup final against Celtic as they ground out a narrow 2-1 win over Motherwell at Hampden Park, the Scottish national stadium, on Sunday.

Rangers took the lead in the 20th minute when Maurice Edu scored from long-distance. Motherwell deservedly grabbed an equalizer in the 66th minute when Keith Lasley drove the ball home from the edge of the box.

But as Motherwell pushed forward looking for a winner they were caught by a fast Rangers counterattack and Nikica Jelavic crossed for the unmarked Steven Naismith to head home the winner with 15 minutes remaining in the match. Rangers manager Walter Smith was pleased to reach the first cup final of the season.

“That’s our fourth since coming back to the club so I’m delighted with that,” said Smith. “We are happy to win what was always going to be a hard-fought match.”

Motherwell manager Stuart McCall, a former Rangers player, had a different take. “It is mixed emotions really. I’m hugely disappointed because I thought the performance merited us at least to go to extra time but I’m really proud of them,” the Motherwell boss said. “It wasn’t a backs-to-the-wall performance and I thought we had good possession of the ball. But it wasn’t to be in the end.”

Motherwell made one substitution as Lasley came in for Steve Jones, while goalkeeper Neil Alexander was handed the gloves for Rangers. Alexander, who replaces regular number one Allan McGregor in cup competitions, was tested early when Jamie Murphy raced down deep into the left zone, but his shot was easily held by the keeper.

Rangers took a while to get a foothold in the game and their first chance came after some fancy footwork from Edu set up Lee McCulloch at the edge of the box. But McCulloch’s shot went well wide of the net.

Rangers took the lead in the 20th minute when Edu created a goal out of nothing. The American midfielder got the ball on to his left foot before cracking an angled drive past Darren Randolph.

Motherwell appealed for a penalty in the 54th minute when David Weir clambered over John Sutton to win a header in the box, but referee Willie Collum waved away their protests. Motherwell deservedly grabbed an equalizer in the 66th minute when Keith Lasley drove the ball home from the edge of the box.

Rangers looked overwhelmed against the pressing Motherwell offense at times but restored their lead in the 75th minute with a breakaway goal. Nikica Jelavic controlled a long ball from Davies and after some fancy footwork on the left wing, he beat Shaun Hutchinson and sent over a cross to the far post where the unmarked Naismith headed past the helpless Randolph.

Motherwell pressed forward to try and nab a late equalizer and only the feet of Alexander saved Rangers as he blocked a Steven Saunders header on the line.


AFP
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