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Tuesday 25 October 2016

Rangers fail in promotion bid amid ugly scenes

Motherwell 3-0 Rangers (6-1 agg)

Published 01/06/2015 | 02:30

Rangers' Kenny Miller challenges Stephen McManus of Motherwell for control of the ball
Rangers' Kenny Miller challenges Stephen McManus of Motherwell for control of the ball

With a kick up the backside and a punch to the mouth, Rangers' and Scotland's domestic season came to an ugly close at a roused Fir Park.

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The bigger picture - in which Rangers were beaten 6-1 on aggregate by Motherwell in this Scottish Premiership play-off, and so will spend a second successive season in Scotland's second tier - was shoved aside by a scrap that ended with three red cards shown after the final whistle and four police horses on the pitch.

Rangers substitute Bilel Mohsni was at the centre of some shocking action when the whistle blew on Motherwell's 3-0 win.

After initially refusing to shake hands with Lee Erwin, who reacted with a push, Mohsni kicked the striker and then swung a left hook that left him nursing a cut below his mouth when he spoke soon after to describe Mohsni "an embarrassment to his club".

The authorities may use stronger words.

It emerged that Mohsni, Erwin and Motherwell sub Fraser Kerr, who joined the melee quickly, were subsequently shown red cards by referee Craig Thomson.

It was an unseemly climax, though it could have been worse. Had hundreds of Rangers fans not begun departing when Motherwell went 2-0 ahead on 70 minutes, the pitch invasion and provocation by home supporters after the whistle could have led to crowd trouble.

It left an easy symbolism to fit on to Rangers' season: a squabble to end a mess.

It has been 10 months of boardroom battling, with Ally McCoist in and out and a team struggling to justify its status as favourites in a division including Hearts and Hibs.

Following that dramatic, historic demotion to the Scottish Third Division three years ago, the assumption was that the Ibrox juggernaut would hurtle to three straight promotions and be back in contention for the title and Europe in May 2016.

But that will have to be put back a year at least.

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