Match Analysis: Rangers 3-1 Motherwell

By Jamie Currie
 December 21, 2020

Rangers managed to come from behind at Ibrox to defeat Motherwell. In truth, Motherwell's ultra-defensive shape caused Rangers problems, in terms of the hosts trying to find ways to break it down, and it didn't help when Callum Lang gave the visitors the lead six minutes in.

Rangers did create chances but only two were clear-cut before turning the game on its head in the final stages of the match. Kemar Roofe's double was sandwiched in between super-sub Cedric Itten's header which gave Steven Gerrard's men a 3-1 victory and more importantly, a 16-point lead at the summit of the Scottish Premiership table.

There were plenty of takeaway from the match at Ibrox and I will delve into them.

Rangers had a post-cup exit hangover in the first half

Rangers started the match in a slow manner and got caught napping for the opening goal on six minutes. But overall in the first period, they had the look of a side who were still feeling sorry for themselves after the St Mirren defeat.

During that first period, they had eight shots overall, and just three on target – four of them came from inside the box. Also, they were second best in ground duels and aerial duels – 25-18 and 11-4. Ryan Kent was on the end of a Steven Davis ball into the box but that was Rangers' best chance in the half and at the interval, it was all a bit flat and looked similar to the performances that were served up before the league was halted between last January and March.

Breaking down the 3-5-2 (5-5-0) was helped by the substitutes changing the match

rangers 3 motherwell 1

Following on from the last point, the above image shows Motherwell's 5-5-0 low block but Rangers have four players behind the play so they are not able to get enough forward movement and players in between the lines to cause Motherwell significant danger.

rangers beat motherwell at ibrox 3 - 1

Aribo replace Glen Kamara, Ianis Hagi replace Scott Arfield and Cedric Itten replace Jermaine Defoe.

In stark contrast, the second half saw Aribo replace Glen Kamara, Ianis Hagi replace Scott Arfield and Cedric Itten replace Jermaine Defoe.

The above image shows how Rangers are able to cause Motherwell more issues in terms of disrupting their shape when Roofe, Aribo, Hagi and Itten are all taking up central positions, rotating and able to create space, leaving Kent and Tavernier to get down the sides and using Goldson almost like a playmaker.

The equaliser came from the numbers game. Usually, if you put in so many crosses (27 in the second period), one will fall to the four or five bodies you have in the box and it did with Roofe slamming home. And the winner came from similar circumstances with Jordan White allowing Itten to get around the back of him to head home.

Looking at the stats for the second half in comparison: 12 total shots; five on target. Rangers came out on top of both duel categories – aerial and ground duels – 11 to 8 and 25 to 18. And 8 of their 12 shots came from inside the box.

So not only did the subs impact the game in terms of Itten putting Rangers in front, but Aribo and Hagi helped Rangers' attacking output in terms of numbers but also tactically helped break down the most defensive set-up I've witnessed at Ibrox, by being direct and stretching their 5-5-0 shape.

Digging in and showing the mentality to find a way to win – applying scoreboard pressure

This win was massive for this group in terms of dealing with a setback. Not only did they win in the aftermath of a stinging cup exit, but they also came from behind to win the game, which takes them 16 points clear. It's the type of win Celtic have managed to get over the years. Just when you think they are dropping points, they pull the win out the bag, which gives the other side a bit of a blow. Furthermore, Rangers recorded their 10th league win in a row and now have picked up 50 points from a possible 54, which is a remarkable improvement in terms of their levels of consistency.

It could be a significant mental turning point for this side, but we will find out more about that and where Rangers stand in the title race post-Hibs on the 27th of January.

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