Kaiyne Woolery inspired an unlikely Motherwell comeback as Rangers failed to capitalise on Celtic’s earlier slip-up at Hibernian in the Premiership title race. Woolery scuffed a shot inside Allan McGregor’s near post with 14 minutes left at Ibrox to seal a 2-2 draw.
Rangers had scored twice in 90 seconds midway through a first half which they dominated. Alfredo Morelos claimed the opener after he and Bevis Mugabi competed for a cross and Fashion Sakala netted his ninth goal for Rangers and fifth against Motherwell.
But Woolery set up substitute Jordan Roberts to net just after the break and scored himself before Motherwell held out amid some intense late pressure.
Motherwell struggled to get to grips with the hosts in a one-sided opening and Morelos hit the bar inside 90 seconds. Liam Kelly made excellent diving stops from James Tavernier and John Lundstram, who also headed wide from eight yards, and Rangers regularly threatened with balls from the right towards Morelos.
It was from this source that Rangers took the lead in the 22nd minute. Ryan Kent drilled in a cross towards the Colombian, who had his back to goal and was closely marked by Mugabi. As the pair challenged, the ball flew inside Kelly’s near post.
Kent had a major hand in the second goal when he drove into the box. The ball broke for Sakala in space and the Zambia international drilled first time into the far corner from 14 yards.
The chances dried up but matters could have been worse for Motherwell going into half-time after Joe Efford escaped with a yellow card from Don Robertson after catching Connor Goldson with his studs when the pair were on the ground.
Kelly soon made a good stop from Tavernier but Motherwell got back in the game in the 52nd minute. Woolery emphatically beat Lundstram for pace to get round the outside and drill over a cross which Roberts tapped in. Morelos was twice denied goals by the offside flag and Kelly stood up to Kent’s powerful strike to keep the Ibrox crowd on edge.
And the tension ramped up when Woolery made the most of a hopeful ball into the box in the 76th minute. The wide man made space under pressure and stabbed a shot inside the near post.
Ricki Lamie, Dean Cornelius and Jake Carroll all produced excellent penalty-box blocks and Kelly denied substitute Kemar Roofe before gratefully gathering as Goldson failed to make the most of a loose ball.
The result was am even greater blow for Rangers after Celtic dropped their first points since December in a goalless draw away to Hibernian.
The visitors had a great chance in the 14th minute when Liel Abada got in behind the home defence as he got on to a crossfield pass from Jota.
Hibs – already without several players through injury – suffered another blow in the 25th minute when Kevin Nisbet fell awkwardly after being fouled by Carl Starfelt and had to be replaced by Christian Doidge.
In stoppage time at the end of an uneventful first half, Celtic defender Josip Juranovic saw his free-kick from the edge of the box tipped over by Matt Macey. Referee Kevin Clancy incurred the wrath of the visitors when he blew for half-time immediately, meaning they were unable to take the resulting corner.
Hibs had their first notable chance of the match in the 54th minute but Sylvester Jasper saw his shot on the turn from inside the box blocked by teammate Chris Doidge.
Matt O’Riley had the chance to test Macey with a free-kick from the edge of the box in the 70th minute, but the substitute’s firm low shot was held by the Hibs keeper. Abada was then denied by an excellent saving challenge from Hibs midfielder Josh Campbell as he tried to knock in a Taylor cross in the 78th minute.
Sunday’s results leave Celtic three points clear of Rangers at the top of the table.