August 4, 2021

Aribo and Balogun’s Rangers stretch unbeaten run with Motherwell draw

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The Nigeria internationals played the entire duration at Fir Park, but it wasn’t the result they ideally wanted

Nigeria duo Leon Balogun and Joe Aribo helped Rangers settle for a 1-1 draw against Motherwell in Sunday’s Premiership encounter.

Balogun turned in a solid defensive shift on his 15th appearance in the Scottish top-flight while Aribo joined Glen Kamara and Steven Davis to pull the strings in the middle of the park.

Devante Cole’s opener in the 21st minute put Rangers behind at Fir Park but second-half substitute Cedric Itten ensured the Gers went back to Glasgow with at least a point which kept their 24-game unbeaten league run intact.

Since his arrival from Wigan Athletic in July, Balogun has established himself in Steven Gerrard’s team with solid defensive performances which have helped them remain dominant in the Scottish top-flight this campaign.

Aribo, meanwhile, could not add to his tally of four goals and two assists in the Premiership so far this term.

Uganda defender Bevis Mugabi was another African star who featured in Sunday’s encounter and he played from start to finish for the hosts while South Africa‘s Bongani Zungu watched on from the bench.

Zungu is yet to start a league match in Scotland since his loan signing from Amiens in October, with his all nine Premiership appearances coming as a substitute.

Following the single point picked up in Motherwell, Rangers now hold a 21-point lead above second-placed Celtic though Neil Lennon’s side has three games in hand.

Steven Gerrard, in his reaction, bemoaned his team’s slow start and he disclosed how he inspired his players at the break.

“We’re disappointed with our showing with our performance in the first half and I had to get into them at half time,” Gerrard said.

“I thought we were really good in the second half and over the course of the 90 minutes we probably deserved to win on chances and on our second half showing.

“But the reality is we can’t come to a game at half time when we are where we are.

“I don’t think we started the game in the right place. We were passive out of possession in too many key areas of the pitch.

“Even when we knocked a few passes and got into good areas, our quality wasn’t there.”

Sunday’s draw ended the Gers’ six-game winning run in the Premiership, but they will aim to bounce back to winning ways when they host Ross County for their next league outing on January 23.