Rangers beat Motherwell 2-0 at a wet and wild Fir Park and return to chasing the heels of cinch Premiership leaders Celtic.
Kieran Dowell started and finished the move for the opening goal in the fourth minute before fellow midfielder Todd Cantwell fired in a second after 16 minutes of a first half which should have brought more goals, but in a wind-affected encounter the early brace proved enough.
The Light Blues moved back to being two points behind their Old Firm rivals with a game in hand and now turn their focus to Ross County on Wednesday night, with the crucial encounter at Celtic Park on December 30 now looming large.
Philippe Clement has gone 16 games unbeaten since taking over from Michael Beale in October but, by contrast, the Steelmen have gone 15 games without a win and they remain five points ahead of second bottom Livingston.
Boss Stuart Kettlewell must wonder how and when they are going to turn it around as he prepares for the trip to Aberdeen in midweek.
An increasing injury list amid a hectic fixture schedule saw Clement make four changes, with Leon Balogun, Cantwell, Dujon Sterling and Cyriel Dessers returning with the home side unchanged.
It was a nightmare start for Kettlewell’s side who soon found themselves a goal down.
Dowell robbed Harry Paton at the edge of the Motherwell penalty area and played a one-two with Dessers before blasting the ball high past Well keeper Liam Kelly for his second goal for the Light Blues since signing in the summer from Norwich.
Well wobbled further when asked to defend.
Balogun headed a Ross McCausland cross over the bar from close range before Kelly made a save from a Connor Goldson header.
However, the second goal was on its way, arriving when left-back Ridvan Yilmaz’s cross into the box was controlled by Abdallah Sima with Cantwell running in to sweep the ball low past the diving Kelly.
A speculative drive from Callum Slattery which skipped past the Rangers goal was their only real response.
Dessers and Goldson both failed to finish from just yards out and Kelly saved a low drive from Dessers as Rangers sporadically threatened.
In the 35th minute, with the rain still cascading amid swirling wind, Dessers swung and missed the ball after Kelly had parried an angled-shot from McCausland.
Motherwell stuck to their considerable task but they could not get through to Gers keeper Jack Butland and it was Kelly who was called into action again just before the break, tipping a Cantwell drive over the bar, but the home side eventually emerged unscathed.
Motherwell, with Paul McGinn on for centre-back Bevis Mugabi, caused some problems for the Govan side at the start of the second half and Brodie Spencer headed wide from a Mika Biereth cross when he ought to have hit the target.
There was a Motherwell penalty shout in the 75th minute when Yilmaz bumped Spencer to the ground inside the Gers box but referee David Dickinson was unmoved and the Rangers escaped a melee in their penalty area moments later.
The home side’s fightback fizzled out.
Dessers had the ball in the Well net in the 82nd minute and again in stoppage time but was twice ruled offside, and there was also a VAR check for a possible penalty for handball in the Rangers box that came to nothing.
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