Watch: Kyle Lafferty proves worth with two goals as Rangers can only manage draw against Motherwell
Kyle Lafferty scored twice but Peter Hartley had the last laugh over Rangers as the Motherwell skipper's 94th-minute equaliser sealed a 3-3 draw at Fir Park.
The defender had been forced to issue an apology on Thursday after mocking former Gers defender Fabio Cardoso and the broken nose he suffered in a tussle with Well frontman Ryan Bowman last term.
But it was Hartley who grabbed the injury-time equaliser as the Light Blues threw away victory for the second time in three Ladbrokes Premiership games.
Rangers found themselves behind for the first time under Steven Gerrard as Danny Johnson opened the scoring early, but they fought back twice with goals from Kyle Lafferty after Carl McHugh had also struck for the hosts.
It looked like Ovie Ejaria's goal just before the break would send Rangers on their 4,600-mile Europa League round trip to Ufa on Thursday in confident mood - only for Hartley to pounce with the last kick of the game.
Have a look at Lafferty's goals, the first a deflected volley and the second a trademark header:
⚽ Motherwell 1 - 1 RANGERS— Rangers Goals (@RangersGoaIs) August 26, 2018
🙋🏻♂️ Kyle Lafferty
⌚ 15' pic.twitter.com/hZKTmD9IfE
⚽ Motherwell 2 - 2 RANGERS— Rangers Goals (@RangersGoaIs) August 26, 2018
🙋🏻♂️ Kyle Lafferty
⌚ 38' pic.twitter.com/WAHFyjYWl0
With next week's Old Firm battle in mind, Gerrard took the chance to road-test a 3-5-2 formation as Jon Flanagan joined Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic in a new-look three-man back line.
As well as Lafferty's reintroduction to the starting XI, Borna Barisic and Andy Halliday also came back in while the hosts made changes to as Allan Campbell and Chris Cadden were welcomed back by Stephen Robinson.
The Gers defence has functioned so well this term that they had not spent a single second behind all season but it took just three minutes for that to change as Johnson struck.
Cadden's ball over the top looked destined for Goldson's head only for the defender to slip on the greasy surface at the vital moment. To make matters worse, Allan McGregor's footing also went from underneath him and forward Johnson took advantage as he lobbed the ball over the stranded goalkeeper into an empty net.
That teed up a breathless start with chances aplenty at either end but it was Rangers who levelled on 16 minutes as Lafferty struck.
Hartley could only clear a Barisic cross to the edge of the box, where the Northern Irish striker was lurking to slam past his compatriot Trevor Carson with the aid of a big deflection off Richard Tait.
Yet Rangers were behind again within two minutes as Katic failed to track McHugh as Gael Bigirimana lined-up a free-kick from deep, leaving the Irishman to loop a header over McGregor.
But the hosts were also guilty of switching off in defence and paid the price when Rangers hit back again on 38 minutes. Tom Aldred did not spot Lafferty cutting across him as James Tavernier collected a quick throw and was powerless to stop the big frontman nodding home.
Rangers were ahead two minutes before half-time as they broke with lightning speed from a Well corner. Alfredo Morelos, Ryan Jack and Barisic all combined as the visitors flooded forward but Carson should have done much better than allow Ejaria's strike to dribble into the net.
If the first period had been action-packed, the second was a quieter affair but no less compelling.
Motherwell piled forward in the final stages looking for an equaliser. Hartley and Curtis Main both came close as they cranked up the pressure.
Gerrard threw on Lee Wallace for the final corner of the game but the former Rangers skipper could not stop Hartley ramming home from Bigirimana's delivery.
Belfast Telegraph Digital