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James Tavernier converts two penalties as Rangers cruise past Motherwell

Motherwell v Rangers – Scottish Premiership – Fir Park
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Motherwell’s penalty problems returned as James Tavernier converted twice from the spot to help Rangers to a crushing 5-1 win at Fir Park.

Stephen Robinson’s team have now given away eight spot-kicks already this term – with free shots from 12 yards accounting for almost half of the 18 goals they have conceded so far.

Having not had a Premiership penalty in exactly 11 months, Gers found themselves with two inside 26 first-half minutes.

Tavernier, restored to spot-kick duties during the Light Blues midweek Europa League win in Holland, tucked both away as he extended his current scoring streak to six goals in as many games.

Jordan Jones made the most of his first league start since August last year to to show he is ready to play a bigger role for Steven Gerrard’s team as he curled home his first Gers goal in a win which sees them remain at the top of the table.

Cedric Itten also opened his Light Blues account with a late double after climbing off the bench, while a George Edmundson own goal could not mask the pain of Well’s fifth defeat of the campaign.

Motherwell had been in European action too on Thursday night, with Bevis Mugabi and Callum Lang replacing Nathan McGinley and Chris Long from the team beaten by Hapoel Beer Sheva in Israel.

Borna Barisic and Ianis Hagi were also given a rest after Gers’ Europa League romp against Williem II in Holland, with Calvin Bassey and Jones handed a rare chance to impress by Gerrard.

Having been rudely awakened by the Dutch outfit’s supporters setting off fireworks in the early hours before the clash in Tilburg, Gerrard’s men were treated to more pyrotechnics as the Motherwell fans let off some rockets outside Fir Park at kick-off.

But once again it was Rangers who exploded into life, carving out the first opportunity inside 45 seconds as Alfredo Morelos had a header pushed away by Trevor Carson.

Gers’ last penalty on league duty ironically enough had come against the Steelmen back on October 27 last year.

And their wait for another ended 11 minutes in when Mugabi’s dangled arm made contact with a Bassey cross as he tried to pick out Scott Arfield. Carson went the right way but was beaten by the accuracy of the Tavernier’s effort, which clipped the post on its way in.

Well could have had a spot-kick of their own soon after but Bobby Madden missed a barge by Glen Kamara on Allan Campbell.

Rangers moved two up on 28 minutes as Arfield measured a perfect ball in behind Ricki Lamie for Jones to outpace the defender. The winger has started just seven games for the Ibrox men since moving to Kilmarnock last summer but looked sharp as he took a touch and swept a lovely left-foot finish in off the same upright.

And the lead became three as some more suicidal behaviour in the box killed off Motherwell’s comeback hopes, with Liam Grimshaw using an arm to stop a Ryan Kent corner as Bassey darted across the front post.

Tavernier went the other way with his second penalty but the result was the same as the ball flew past Carson.

Robinson introduced striker Long and midfielder Barry Maguire at the break but it made little difference as Rangers steamrollered on.

Carson kept out two free-kick attempts from Tavernier but there was no stopping Itten’s maiden Gers goal on 75 minutes as the Swiss international took a touch on the edge of the box and crashed into the top corner before netting again four minutes later as he bundled home from a Tavernier corner.

Edmundson was left red-faced with three minutes left when he allowed Sherwin Seedorf’s corner to bounce in off his face into McGregor’s net.