MOTHERWELL secured their Premiership status by thrashing Rangers 3-0 at Fir Park this afternoon in the second leg of their crunch play-off contest.
’Well triumphed 6-1 on aggregate, with Sunday’s win coming three days after the Steelmen had won 3-1 at Ibrox in the first leg.
Roared on by a boisterous home contingent in the 9000 crowd, Motherwell looked nervous in the early stages of a scrappy first half.
A Louis Laing mistake early on let in Rangers striker Kris Boyd, but his left foot effort went wide of keeper George Long’s right hand post.
Striker Lee Erwin shot wide for the hosts on 34 minutes, before team-mate Marvin Johnson did likewise seven minutes later.
Zaliukas and Boyd spurned further opportunities to end a goalless opening 45 minutes.
The deadlock was broken in remarkable style on 52 minutes, when Johnson’s speculative shot from 25 yards took a wicked deflection before looping over the hapless Bell.
That sent the home fans into delirium, with regular renditions of Beatles hit Twist and Shout being belted out by the fans in claret and amber.
The goal seemed to relax ’Well’s players and they proceeded to dominate the rest of the match.
It was 2-0 on 69 minutes when ’Well winger Lionel Ainsworth shot home after a brilliant run by Johnson.
Erwin and substitute John Sutton both had goal attempts blocked on 79 minutes, before Rangers sub Walsh forced a rare save from Long at the other end.
There was injury time drama when Erwin was fouled in the box by Gers defender Lee Wallace.
Sutton stepped up to score comfortably past Bell to bring the match to a close.
There was controversy after the match when Gers sub Bilel Mohsni appeared to swing a punch at Erwin. ’Well squad man Fraser Kerr stepped in to try and break up the confrontation.
All three players involved in the incident were red carded after the full-time whistle.
Despite being warned over the PA system not to enter the pitch, several Motherwell fans ran on and goaded their Rangers counterparts in the South Stand.
Motherwell: Long, Law, Hammell, Laing, McManus, Ainsworth (Sutton 76), Lasley, Pearson (Grant 73), Johnson (Ramsden 84), McDonald, Erwin.
Rangers: Bell, Foster, Wallace, McCulloch, Zaliukas (Mohsni 72), Vuckic, Murdoch, Law, Ferguson (Walsh 55), Miller, Boyd (Clark 59).
Referee: Craig Thomson