Gio van Bronckhorst on vital Rangers role for fringe stars in ramping up Celtic title pressure

Rangers boss Gio van Bronckhorst hailed his fringe stars for keeping the title race pressure on Celtic.

The Ibrox gaffer rested key stars ahead of their Europa League semi-final against RB Leipzig on Thursday night at Fir Park.

But squad players Scott Wright and Fashion Sakala stepped up to the plate in Lanarkshire and helped Gers to a 3-1 win.

The victory closed the gap at the top of the Premiership to three points ahead of Celtic’s visit to Ross County tomorrow.

Van Bronckhorst was delighted with the display of Wright in particular, as well as his side’s performance with 10 men after Leon Balogun’s first half red card.

The Dutchman, who saw Wright grab a brace and James Tavernier convert a penalty, said: “Wright and Sakala were very useful, they’ve both got qualities.

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst at full time during a cinch Premiership match between Motherwell and Rangers at Fir Park.

“They’re quick and fast with the ball and their movement is good too.

“They had a slightly different role when we went down to 10 men but they still caused a lot of danger.

“I’m really happy for Scotty to score twice.

“It worked out well for us today even after the red card. You just have to make sure you create the chances.

“And although we had a man less, the players did what we wanted and with 10 men, we had other chances to score.”

Former Aberdeen winger Wright was delighted with his contribution and pleased to grab a rare chance to start.

He says his second goal – a terrific effort from the edge of the box – was just reward for his patience and resilience.

And despite putting heat on Celtic before they go to Dingwall with just five games left in the title race, he says Rangers are only concentrating on themselves.

Wright said: “I’ll need to claim the first goal today as well even if it was a bit of a jammy in the box!

“But I was delighted with the second one, it’s what I work hard for Monday to Friday – to get opportunities like this.

“I need to make sure I take them when I get them.

“Every week is an opportunity for me in training to try and show the boss what I can do.

“I’ve got to be patient for these chances and when they come I need to make sure I take them.

“For us, it’s just about taking each game as it comes, focus on ourselves and we’ll move forward from there.

“We knew it was going to be an uphill battle after going down to ten men today but we had to trust the game plan and stick to what we do.

“We had to create overloads. It wasn’t ideal when they managed to get a goal back but the word from the boss was just to keep believing in ourselves.”

Rangers were dealt a body blow when centre-back Balogun was sent packing for a rash challenge on Motherwell youngster Dean Cornelius.

The Nigerian will now be suspended for the Old Firm derby clash with Celtic next Sunday, with Gers already missing several key men.

Van Bronckhorst had no complaints with the red card but hinted that Motherwell defender Juahni Ojala was lucky not to receive the same punishment for a tackle on Wright.

The Gers gaffer said: “We had to adjust the game plan, of course. We started off really well, we were 1-0 up and in control of the game.

“With the red card we had to switch to a different way of playing.

“I think we did it really well, especially the second half.

“We had half time to change things a little bit when we had the ball – but also defensively.

“There were two tackles, both with the intention to win the ball.

“The margins are really close in those tackles.

“We just have to accept the red card we had, we can’t do anything about it.

“Today, I concentrated more on how we could play and eventually it gave us the win.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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