Motherwell 1-2 Rangers

By Clive LindsayBBC Scotland

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.

Live text commentaryexternal-link