Dublin: 10°C Sunday 25 July 2021

Irish midfielder sent off, as Steven Gerrard's Rangers score 7 to close in on Celtic

Carl McHugh was dismissed on a day to forget for Motherwell.

Rangers Eros Grezda (right) celebrates scoring his side's sixth goal of the game.
Rangers Eros Grezda (right) celebrates scoring his side's sixth goal of the game.
Image: Jeff Holmes

STEVEN GERRARD’S RANGERS enjoyed a 7-1 rout of 10-man Motherwell on Sunday as Celtic moved to the top of the Scottish Premiership for the first time this season following a goalless draw with Livingston.

Reigning Scottish champions Celtic now lead the standings on goal difference from Hearts, with a game in hand over the Edinburgh club.

But Rangers are now just two points behind the leading pair following their seven-goal spree at Ibrox.

Motherwell were all square at 1-1 when Carl McHugh was sent off for a second bookable offence as a result of handball in the visitors’ box.

James Tavernier scored from the resulting penalty and from then on the floodgates opened, with Eros Grezda scoring his first two goals for Rangers with Scott Arfield also twice on target.

Arfield opened the scoring for Rangers before Curtis Main equalised.

With Motherwell a man down, Alredo Morelos and Glenn Middleton also scored for Rangers.

The Gers may have found life on the road awkward this season but Sunday’s result meant they’d now gone six league games unbeaten at Ibrox — a run including five wins — under manager Gerrard, the former Liverpool and England midfielder.

Earlier, Celtic were unable to reproduce their recent free-scoring form at Livingston.

The Hoops had managed 23 goals in their previous five domestic fixtures to bounce back from an early-season slump and also beat RB Leipzig on Thursday to keep their chances of Europa League qualification alive.

But Brendan Rodgers’ men failed to get going on Livingston’s plastic pitch and the promoted side held out for another famous result after beating Rangers 1-0 at home last month.

Rodgers felt his side should have been playing against 10 men, with no action taken against Dolly Menga after the Livingston striker appeared to move his head towards Ryan Christie as the pair jostled while waiting for a corner.

“He should have been sent off. I thought so in real time,” said Rodgers. “He was very, very lucky to stay on the pitch.”

Rodgers, who was Gerrard’s manager at Liverpool, added Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer would need surgery on an eye socket injury sustained in the second half.

He’s struggling — he’s broken his eye socket and he’s in a lot of pain,” said Rodgers. “He will need surgery which is a shame for him.”

Livingston needed heroics from goalkeeper Liam Kelly to gain a point, particularly five minutes from time when he turned behind a Tom Rogic effort that seemed destined for the top corner.

James Forrest also clipped the crossbar just before half-time for the visitors.

However, Livingston had chances too as Celtic’s stand-in keeper Scott Bain saved two Declan Gallagher headers in quick succession before the break.

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