Steven Gerrard offered to shoulder the blame for Motherwell’s last-gasp equaliser after Rangers threw away victory at Fir Park.
With the Light Blues clinging on to a 3-2 lead, Gerrard decided to end Lee Wallace’s exile by bringing the former skipper on to help defend a 94th-minute corner.
But as the Ibrox men reshuffled Motherwell took advantage, with skipper Peter Hartley – this week forced to apologise over crass comments mocking former Rangers defender Fabio Cardoso – having the last laugh as he bundled home with the last kick of the match.
It was a bitter blow for Gerrard’s team as they now slip four points behind early pace-setters Hearts.
The former Liverpool skipper admits his side need to tighten up while defending set-pieces after seeing Carl McHugh nod home from a Gael Bigirimana free-kick during the first half.
But he also vowed to put his hands up if the decision to introduce Wallace was the cause of their late slip-up.
He said: “They had four or five big units on there then I have a defender sitting behind me who is 6ft 3in, and with all due respect to Ovie Ejaria – and he was good today – Lee Wallace is a lot better at defending set-pieces. That was the thinking behind it.
“If I’ve got it wrong I’ll take the blame, no problem.”
Rangers found themselves behind for the first time since Gerrard took over after three minutes when Danny Johnson pounced on a slip by Connor Goldson to lob Allan McGregor.
The visitors hit back when Kyle Lafferty grabbed his first goal since returning to the club from Hearts and added a second as he then cancelled out McHugh’s header.
Rangers completed the turnaround when an Ejaria strike spilled through Well goalkeeper Trevor Carson’s hands just before half-time. But just as the Light Blues tripped up in stoppage time against Aberdeen on the opening day, so did they drop another two points when Hartley finished off from Bigirimana’s late delivery.
“I’m bitterly disappointed with the timing of the equaliser,” said Gerrard, who shot down reports linking him with Ryan Gauld and Nathan Dyer.
“It obviously hurts that little bit more that late.
“I thought we defended very well to their style in open play for the majority of the game.
“But we’ve got work to do defending set-plays, that’s for sure.
“The first goal was an unlucky one obviously. I’ve been there myself so I feel for Connor on that one.
“As for Lafferty. That’s exactly why we brought him here. We knew he was capable of scoring important goals and a volume of goals in this league.”
There was more than a hint of irony that it was Hartley who grabbed the equaliser for Well after he was made to retract comments made in the build-up.
The defender said it had been “fun to watch” Cardoso “weeping” after the Portuguese defender suffered a broken nose in a clash with Well frontman Ryan Bowman last term.
But boss Stephen Robinson said: “Actions speak louder than words. I prefer he did that rather than say what he did.
“He has apologised and accepted he made a mistake. That’s the way to do it. Do your talking on the pitch, not off it.”
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