The Gers were reduced to ten men but managed to carve out a convincing win to stay in touch with Celtic at the top of the table
Super Eagles defender Leon Balogun nearly turned into a villain, but Rangers rallied to thump Motherwell 3-1 in an early Scottish Premiership kickoff on Saturday.
With eternal rivals Celtic six points ahead of the Light Blues, a win for the reigning champions over Motherwell was non-negotiable.
Still, Rangers’ Giovanni van Bronckhorst gambled with eight changes, leaving out the Nigerian duo of Joe Aribo and Calvin Bassey, with compatriot Leon Balogun making it into the starting eleven as he kept an eye on Thursday’s Europa League semi-final showdown against Bundesliga high flyers.
It appeared to be going well for the Gers as Scott Wright got the final touch after a goalmouth scramble to put them ahead in the third minute. The goal was, however, recorded as Liam Kelly’s own goal as the goalkeeper had the last touch before the ball went past the line.
But a wild challenge by Leon Balogun after only 29 minutes forced the referee to show the Nigerian international a red card and give the visitors a huge mountain to climb. Calvin Bassey was introduced in place of Amad Diallo as Rangers looked to rally.
But it momentarily yielded little positive result as Ross Tierney’s headed goal for the home side levelled proceedings and had Rangers in deep trouble.
But second-half goals from Scott Wright and James Tavernier, who converted from the spot, powered ten-man Rangers to the win pushed them to within three points of Celtic.
The Glasgow giants turn their attentions to the Europa League, where they face RB Leipzig in the semifinal.