Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst claimed his side would have beaten Motherwell if Scottish referees had video assistance as he defended his players’ mentality following a 2-2 Ibrox draw.
The cinch Premiership champions missed the chance to cut the gap on the leaders to a point as they threw away a two-goal lead hours after Celtic were held by Hibernian.
The Light Blues were utterly dominant in the opening stages and scored twice inside 90 seconds midway through the first half. The opener appeared to come off Bevis Mugabi under pressure from Alfredo Morelos before Fashion Sakala scored his fifth goal against Motherwell this season.
But Motherwell got a lifeline in the 52nd minute when Kaiyne Woolery destroyed stand-in centre-back John Lundstram for pace and delivered a cross on a plate for Jordan Roberts to tap in.
Morelos had two goals disallowed for offside before Woolery netted himself in the 76th minute after making the most of a hopeful ball into the box and stabbing a shot inside Allan McGregor’s near post.
Van Bronckhorst felt Liam Shaw was offside in an earlier phase of Motherwell’s attack as he defended his decision to wait until the 83rd minute before making a change, his only one, when Kemar Roofe replaced Sakala.
“We should have won the game in the first half with the chances we created,” the Dutchman said.
“We created 30 chances. I know it has been hard weeks but we were playing well and creating chances.
“We got three minutes extra time, which for me was unbelievable. Again it is the refs that decide it.
“I think with the build-up to the second goal, the player (Shaw) was offside and we scored two goals which were even closer with Morelos. You couldn’t see it with your eye and they got that really sharp eye in those moments.
“But when one player is one yard offside they didn’t see it. That is why you need VAR, for these moments to help referees. With VAR, we would have won this game.”
Rangers have now won just three of their eight league games after the winter break but Van Bronckhorst, whose side prevailed against Borussia Dortmund in midweek in the Europa League, said: “The mentality is good. I didn’t hear any complaints on Thursday about the mentality and it is the same players.
“Sometimes these situations happen. We have to be more ruthless defensively, that is for sure, and we have to be more clinical in front of goal.
“If you look back at the run after the break, getting four draws isn’t good enough and it has to be better, especially with the standards we want to have with this club.
“Of course we can do things better but I think the mentality of the players is what is needed to be successful. But obviously we cannot continue to dominate games and just get one point.”
Motherwell assistant manager Chris Lucketti felt his side showed more belief in the second half.
“We said at half-time about showing respect but not fear,” Lucketti said.
“Maybe the first half there was a little bit of fear from some of our players.
“We asked them to show belief in themselves – they are good players, they can handle the ball. And second half they responded in the way that we wanted.”
Motherwell produced a string of penalty-box blocks as they held out from some intense late pressure.
“Every single player was putting their body on the line,” Lucketti said.
“It was a performance full of grit and steel for those last 15 minutes.”