Rangers denied Celtic the chance to clinch the Scottish title at home to St Johnstone thanks to Lee McCulloch's 89th-minute winner away to Motherwell.

Third-placed Well were ahead after six minutes with Henrik Ojamaa's clinical finish from close range.

But the scores were level three minutes later through Steven Whittaker's superb 25-yard drive in a thrilling encounter.

Rangers' Sone Aluko was denied a penalty and both sides had chances before McCulloch's close-range winner.

The veteran utility man's first goal against his former club moves the reigning champions six points clear of Well and 15 behind their Old Firm rivals.

Ojamaa (right) celebrates after opening the scoring for Motherwell

Ojamaa (right) celebrates after opening the scoring for Motherwell

Fit-again Kyle Bartley had replaced the suspended Carlos Bocanegra in Rangers' central defence and was alongside Ross Perry as Sasa Papac moved forward into the holding midfield role in the absence of the injured Rhys McCabe.

Keith Lasley replaced Stuart Carswell for Motherwell as the experienced midfielder returned from his ban for a side looking to make amends for last week's meek reverse at Kilmarnock.

That determination was evident within minutes as Chris Humphrey sped clear of Perry on the right wing before cutting the ball back from the byeline for the unmarked Ojamaa to side-foot into the net from eight yards.

Rangers looked to respond immediately and a Whittaker back-header looped just wide with muted calls for a penalty for shoving in the penalty box.

However, the Rangers defender did find the net in the next attack with a wicked curling drive from 25 yards that found the far corner of the net with goalkeeper Darren Randolph rooted to the wrong side of the goal.

Motherwell were lucky to keep 11 men on the pitch when Whittaker fouled Tim Clancy and referee Iain Brines was perhaps on the wrong side to see the Motherwell defender head into the Rangers defender's chest in response as both players emerged with a booking.

Rangers manager Ally McCoist responded to Humphrey's raids down the wing by moving to a 4-4-2 formation, but that failed to prevent the home side creating chances and goalkeeper Allan McGregor had to block Nicky Law's prodded effort clear with his legs.

Brines was the centre of attention again after Clancy was short with a back-pass and, when goalkeeper Randolph's outstretched leg clattered Aluko's shin, the referee booked the forward for diving instead of awarding the penalty.

Rangers ended the first half on top, but Motherwell started to exert some pressure after the break and McGregor's firm fists diverted Lasley's powerful 20-yard drive over the crossbar.

A Papac cross was just too high for Whittaker to do any more than head over from five yards, while Law volleyed wide at the other end with goalkeeper McGregor stranded after punching clear under pressure.

Rangers captain Steven Davis was wide with a volley while McGregor came to Rangers' rescue with a finger-tip to turn wide a superb, 16-yard half-volley from Michael Higdon.

Well goalkeeper Randolph denied Aluko from close range but was left helpless when Perry's long throw deceived the home defence and McCulloch prodded in the winner from five yards.

Lineup, Bookings (5) & Substitutions (3)

Motherwell

  • 01 Randolph
  • 03 Hammell
  • 15 Hutchinson
  • 22 Clancy Booked
  • 04 Law (Daley - 90' )
  • 06 Hateley
  • 07 Humphrey
  • 08 Jennings
  • 14 Lasley Booked
  • 09 Higdon
  • 24 Ojamaa

Substitutes

  • 12 Hollis
  • 20 Page
  • 17 Daley
  • 26 Carswell
  • 11 Murphy
  • 16 McHugh
  • 18 Forbes

Rangers

  • 01 McGregor
  • 02 Goian Booked
  • 05 Papac (Lafferty - 63' )
  • 12 Wallace
  • 16 Whittaker Booked
  • 22 Bartley
  • 32 Perry
  • 06 McCulloch
  • 07 Edu (Little - 85' )
  • 08 Davis
  • 19 Aluko Booked

Substitutes

  • 25 Alexander
  • 21 Bedoya
  • 58 MacLeod
  • 11 Lafferty
  • 15 Healy
  • 28 Kerkar
  • 34 Little
Ref: Brines
Att: 9,063

Match Stats

Shots

10 15

On target

7 8

Corners

6 3

Fouls

17 16

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +2:18 Full time

Full Time The referee signals the end of the game.

90:00 +1:17

Kyle Lafferty gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Tim Clancy. Direct free kick taken by Darren Randolph.

90:00 +0:50

Free kick awarded for a foul by Steve Jennings on Sone Aluko. Allan McGregor restarts play with the free kick.

89:46

Free kick awarded for a foul by Kyle Bartley on Michael Higdon. Direct free kick taken by Tom Hateley. Michael Higdon takes a shot. Blocked by Sone Aluko.

89:11 Substitution

Substitution Omar Daley joins the action as a substitute, replacing Nicky Law.

88:19

Ross Perry provided the assist for the goal.

88:19 Goal scored

Goal! - Lee McCulloch - Motherwell 1 - 2 Rangers Goal scored by Lee McCulloch from close range low into the middle of the goal. Motherwell 1-2 Rangers.

87:57

Centre by Ross Perry, Sone Aluko takes a shot. Darren Randolph makes a save.

85:28

Andrew Little challenges Tim Clancy unfairly and gives away a free kick. Darren Randolph restarts play with the free kick.

84:52 Substitution

Substitution Maurice Edu leaves the field to be replaced by Andrew Little.

84:52

Chris Humphrey produces a left-footed shot from the edge of the area and misses to the left of the goal.

84:12

Kyle Lafferty takes a shot. Darren Randolph makes a save.

82:54

Steven Whittaker gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Tom Hateley. Darren Randolph takes the free kick.

81:35

Maurice Edu takes a shot from just outside the penalty area clears the crossbar.

80:33

Corner taken by Tom Hateley from the right by-line.

80:18

Michael Higdon takes a shot. Save by Allan McGregor.

79:52

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Tom Hateley by Kyle Lafferty. Direct free kick taken by Tom Hateley.

78:49

Corner taken right-footed by Tom Hateley from the right by-line to the near post, Shaun Hutchinson has a headed effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the right of the goal.

77:57

Stevie Hammell challenges Sone Aluko unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Kyle Bartley.

76:03

Kyle Lafferty takes a shot. Tim Clancy gets a block in.

75:48

Sone Aluko takes a shot. Blocked by Shaun Hutchinson.

73:19

Tom Hateley has a direct shot on goal from the free kick.

73:19 Booking

Booking Dorin Goian booked.

73:11

Dorin Goian concedes a free kick for a foul on Michael Higdon.

71:33

Nicky Law challenges Sone Aluko unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct effort from the free kick comes in from Steven Davis.

70:10

Unfair challenge on Michael Higdon by Dorin Goian results in a free kick. Stevie Hammell crosses the ball in from the free kick.

69:31

Henrik Ojamaa takes a shot. Blocked by Ross Perry.

67:22

Shot by Steven Davis from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the goal.

62:02 Substitution

Substitution Sasa Papac goes off and Kyle Lafferty comes on.

60:49

Foul by Kyle Bartley on Michael Higdon, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed by Stevie Hammell.

59:49

Foul by Stevie Hammell on Steven Whittaker, free kick awarded. Steven Davis delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from right wing. The referee blows for offside against Maurice Edu. Darren Randolph takes the indirect free kick.

58:35

Nicky Law has an effort at goal from just outside the area which goes wide of the left-hand post.

57:59

Dorin Goian gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Michael Higdon. Free kick taken by Stevie Hammell.

56:47

Inswinging corner taken by Tom Hateley from the left by-line, Henrik Ojamaa concedes a free kick for a foul on Allan McGregor. Free kick taken by Allan McGregor.

55:39

Sasa Papac produces a cross, Header from close range by Steven Whittaker clears the bar.

54:32

Inswinging corner taken by Sone Aluko, Tim Clancy makes a clearance.

52:34

Corner taken right-footed by Tom Hateley from the right by-line to the near post, Allan McGregor fouled by Henrik Ojamaa, the ref awards a free kick. Allan McGregor takes the free kick.

52:02

Corner from the left by-line taken by Tom Hateley, Steven Whittaker makes a clearance.

51:48

Effort from 20 yards by Keith Lasley. Save by Allan McGregor.

50:08

The assistant referee flags for offside against Nicky Law. Lee Wallace restarts play with the free kick.

48:17

Maurice Edu challenges Keith Lasley unfairly and gives away a free kick. Darren Randolph restarts play with the free kick.

47:59

Foul by Michael Higdon on Kyle Bartley, free kick awarded. Steven Davis takes the direct free kick.

47:17

Steve Jennings challenges Sone Aluko unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Steven Davis from right wing.

45:49

Lee McCulloch fouled by Tim Clancy, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Sone Aluko.

45:01

The second half kicks off.

45:00 +0:28 Half time

Half Time The match has reached half-time.

44:24

Allan McGregor restarts play with the free kick.

44:24 Booking

Booking Keith Lasley is cautioned.

44:22

Nicky Law challenges Kyle Bartley unfairly and gives away a free kick.

39:38

Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Sone Aluko played to the near post, clearance made by Steve Jennings.

39:07

Corner taken by Sone Aluko from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance made by Shaun Hutchinson.

38:50

Maurice Edu takes a shot. Blocked by Steve Jennings.

37:41

Dorin Goian concedes a free kick for a foul on Michael Higdon. Shaun Hutchinson takes the free kick.

37:12

Shaun Hutchinson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Lee McCulloch. Lee Wallace takes the direct free kick.

33:32

Steven Whittaker produces a right-footed shot from just outside the area that goes wide left of the goal.

29:19

Steven Whittaker concedes a free kick for a foul on Stevie Hammell. Stevie Hammell takes the direct free kick.

28:51

Darren Randolph takes the free kick.

28:02 Booking

Booking The referee shows Sone Aluko a yellow card.

27:17

Maurice Edu produces a left-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the target.

25:08

Sone Aluko produces a cross.

23:06

Maurice Edu takes a shot. Keith Lasley gets a block in.

22:40

Nicky Law takes a shot. Save made by Allan McGregor.

20:32

Free kick awarded for a foul by Keith Lasley on Lee McCulloch. Free kick taken by Kyle Bartley.

19:03

Corner taken by Tom Hateley, Lee McCulloch makes a clearance.

18:45

Maurice Edu concedes a free kick for a foul on Keith Lasley. Nicky Law restarts play with the free kick.

16:55

The referee blows for offside. Darren Randolph restarts play with the free kick.

15:58

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Dorin Goian by Chris Humphrey. Allan McGregor takes the free kick.

14:40

Free kick awarded for a foul by Lee McCulloch on Shaun Hutchinson. Darren Randolph takes the direct free kick.

14:01

The assistant referee signals for offside against Michael Higdon. Indirect free kick taken by Sasa Papac.

13:14 Booking

Booking Booking for Steven Whittaker for unsporting behaviour.

13:14 Booking

Booking The referee cautions Tim Clancy for unsporting behaviour.

12:02

Unfair challenge on Maurice Edu by Michael Higdon results in a free kick. Sone Aluko takes the free kick.

10:44

Maurice Edu gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nicky Law. Free kick taken by Tom Hateley.

10:10

Unfair challenge on Maurice Edu by Nicky Law results in a free kick. Maurice Edu restarts play with the free kick.

8:46

Sasa Papac provided the assist for the goal.

8:46 Goal scored

Goal! - Steven Whittaker - Motherwell 1 - 1 Rangers Steven Whittaker scores a goal from outside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Motherwell 1-1 Rangers.

7:46

Foul by Keith Lasley on Steven Whittaker, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Kyle Bartley.

7:02

Header from just outside the box by Steven Whittaker misses to the left of the goal.

6:15

Free kick awarded for a foul by Steve Jennings on Lee McCulloch. Sone Aluko takes the direct free kick.

5:12

Assist on the goal came from Chris Humphrey.

5:12 Goal scored

Goal! - Henrik Ojamaa - Motherwell 1 - 0 Rangers Henrik Ojamaa finds the back of the net with a goal from close in to the bottom right corner of the goal. Motherwell 1-0 Rangers.

4:19

Steven Whittaker gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Keith Lasley. Keith Lasley restarts play with the free kick.

3:28

Michael Higdon is caught offside. Ross Perry takes the free kick.

0:00

The referee gets the game underway.

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