RANGERS started 2012 in the perfect way with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over third placed Motherwell at Ibrox.
Before the match fans were stunned to learn that Nikica Jelavic was ruled out of the big game due to a groin injury but the Croatian was not needed as the Light Blues showed what they are capable of throughout an impressive 90 minutes display.
A poacher’s goal from David Healy opened the scoring in the first half and Sone Aluko doubled his side’s advantage after the break before Stephen Craigan diverted a shot from man-of-the-match Lee Wallace into the net with 19 minutes remaining.
It was a great day for the Gers support to enjoy and the defence looked solid with Dorin Goian back in the heart of defence following his two-match suspension.
But the result came at a cost with Kyle Lafferty stretchered off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury and given his reaction after he could be out for 4-5 weeks.
On a cold and wet afternoon it was Rangers that immediately went on the attack and with not even 30 seconds played a teasing cross from Healy had Craigan punting the ball out nervously for the first corner of the match.
Aluko then picked the ball up on the right and his sclaffed cross found Healy who was denied by Darren Randolph who dived bravely at his feet.
The winger took the resulting corner and Goian had his head in his hands after failing to connect with the ball having made a great run into the box.
On seven minutes Ally McCoist was forced into making a tactical switch when Lafferty was stretchered off after he pulled up while chasing a long ball from Papac.
The forward looked in real pain as he left the pitch and could be out for some time which is another huge blow for the club.
It was Fleck that replaced the club’s number 11 and he did well playing in the ‘hole’ between the midfield and lone striker Healy.
This now looked to be a real test for the Champions but it was one they would pass with flying colours with Motherwell not putting up much of a challenge.
But with Lafferty off the big question was whether Rangers could find the creative spark to unlock a stubborn Well backline marshalled by the hugely experienced Stephen Craigan.
Sasa Papac was doing his best to get forward and when he dinked the ball past former Gers midfielder Stephen Hughes his cross was met by the unmarked Healy but his downward header failed to hit the target.
Two minutes later, however, the former Fulham man made no mistake with a trademark finish.
Mo Edu was the architect and his low cross found Healy who squirmed the ball across Randolph and into the net in front of the jubilant Broamloan Stand.
It was just what the game needed and 60 seconds later the Ulsterman could have bagged his second when he was played in by Davis but his left foot drive from 20 yards was straight at the Well keeper.
Rangers survived a late flurry from the visitors including a terrific cross from Stevie Hammell which skidded across McGregor’s goal before Higdon put the ball over on the stretch.
But for the start of the second half McCall made two changes with attacking players Chris Humphrey and Omar Daley replacing Hughes and Murphy as the visitors look to exert a bit more pressure in the last third.
Rangers were also looking to double their advantage as quickly as possible and straight away they went in for the kill.
On 46 minutes a deep cross from Aluko was met by Wallace but Randolph was there to make a fine stop.
And three minutes later a great corner from Aluko found Bocanegra but his powerful header was stopped on the line before being cleared.
The warning signs were there for the Fir Park side but on 54 minutes they could do nothing to stop Aluko hiiting a great goal.
The Nigerian made space with a terrific dummy on the edge of the 18-yard box before drilling a powerful left foot effort beyond the helpless Randolph.
It was a superb finish from the winger who again showed what he brings to the Gers team with his trickery, pace and skill.
It was all Rangers now and on the hour mark Randolph had to be sharp to make a fine stop from Davis who linked up brilliantly to with Healy before producing an excellent, curling effort.
With the rain now battering down on both sets of players it looked inevitable that more goals would come and on 71 minutes Rangers made it 3-0.
The impressive Wallace connected with a back post cross from Aluko and his shot was diverted into the net by an unfortunate Well defender.
Rangers continued in their search for more but the Motherwell defence held firm for the remainder of the game despite being under constant pressure and they would no doubt have been delighted to hear the final whistle.
Man of the Match – Lee Wallace was again asked to feature on the left side of midfield and he put in an energetic display which highlighted his qualities.