TWO goals in the second half from James Tavernier and Martyn Waghorn earned Rangers a 2-0 win at Motherwell in their Betfred Cup opener.
Motherwell were made to rue a series of missed chances in the first half, most of them early on, as Rangers took control after the break.
Tavernier and Waghorn finished brilliantly at either end of the second period as Rangers took control of Group F.
However, Motherwell could have been out of sight before the 10-minute mark. Marvin Johnson got in behind Rangers in the first minute but Andy Halliday cleared Lionel Ainsworth’s shot off the line.
Wes Foderingham saved from Scott McDonald after a short back-pass from Tavernier and Chris Cadden dragged a shot wide after Ainsworth’s through-ball.
McDonald and Johnson then carved Rangers open again but Foderingham got a hand to the latter’s drive to push it wide.
Rangers, who included none of their eight summer signings in their starting line-up, settled into some good spells of possession and Waghorn had a shot tipped over by Craig Samson.
But Motherwell were still creating the better chances. Johnson skied a shot after Tavernier fluffed a clearance and the unmarked McDonald failed to get enough on Ainsworth’s free-kick to beat Foderingham from six yards.
Rangers started to carve out some clearer opportunities towards the end of the half. Waghorn’s flick gave Kenny Miller a sight of goal but he shot well wide under pressure, and the former volleyed just over on the turn after some route-one football.
And the visitors took the lead three minutes after the restart. Motherwell were defending deep in numbers when Waghorn cut the ball back for Tavernier, but the right-back had enough room to dig out a brilliant finish into the top corner from 16 yards.
The goalscorer almost set up an identical second moments later but Harry Forrester shot off the bar.
Rangers handed Niko Kranjcar his debut just after the hour mark but the former Tottenham midfielder soon fluffed two decent chances. Barrie McKay blazed over from an even better opportunity after Samson had stopped substitute Michael O’Halloran’s angled drive.
Rangers continued to edge possession but Motherwell had several chances to level. Substitute Louis Moult, a pre-match injury doubt, headed just wide from Richard Tait’s cross and McDonald shot over after making space for himself. Foderingham then punched clear as Ben Heneghan looked set to head home Johnson’s free-kick.
Motherwell had an escape when the officials somehow missed Samson denying Waghorn with his arm yards outside his box, and Rangers soon had a penalty claim rejected when McKay’s shot struck Heneghan on the hand.
But Waghorn sealed the points in injury-time when he curled in off the post from 18 yards after collecting O’Halloran’s cutback.