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Rangers cut Celtic lead back to three points with win over 10-man Kilmarnock
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Ronnie Esplin
Press Association
Fabio Silva celebrates scoring the equaliser (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Fabio Silva celebrates scoring the equaliser (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Rangers remain on the heels of Celtic at the top of the cinch Premiership table following a 4-1 comeback win over 10-man Kilmarnock but there was plenty of early concern for the home side at Ibrox.

Skipper James Tavernier scored an own goal after 12 minutes of a chaotic, incident-packed first half then had a penalty saved by Killie keeper Will Dennis after defender Joe Wright was sent off for the offending handball.

Rangers pounded the Kilmarnock penalty area and Portuguese forward Fabio Silva levelled in the last of eight added minutes at the end of the first half.

Second-half substitute Ben Davies scored his first Gers goal in the 62nd minute with substitute Tom Lawrence curling in a superb third 10 minutes later and defender John Souttar heading in a fourth in added time.

With just three fixtures remaining, the Light Blues are again three points behind leaders Celtic with an inferior goal difference of five ahead of the Old Firm game at Parkhead next Saturday, although Philippe Clement’s side should not be fooled by the win over a team who played so long with 10 players.

Celtic had applied some pressure to their city rivals with a convincing 3-0 win over Hearts at Parkhead on Saturday, where results elsewhere confirmed fourth-placed Killie would be playing European football next season.

There was drama aplenty at the start of the match, with a VAR check for a possible Rangers penalty with less than two minutes on the clock after Dujon Sterling’s pass struck defender Corrie Ndaba inside the box.

Referee David Dickinson was asked to check his pitchside monitor and play carried on, the official sticking to his earlier decision.

Gers midfielder John Lundstram had the ball in the net in the sixth minute but the flag was up for an earlier offside.

Then Matty Kennedy did not connect cleanly with a deep cross from Liam Polworth at the far post but the ball somehow beat Gers keeper Jack Butland, came off Tavernier and rolled over the line.

After initially being stunned, the Gers fans demanded quick retribution.

There was another lengthy VAR check for a possible Gers spot-kick after 21 minutes when centre-back Wright used his hand to deny Dujon Sterling close to the goal line following a Silva cross.

Dickinson checked his monitor again and this time pointed to the spot, then sent Wright off before Tavernier’s penalty was brilliantly saved by Dennis down to his right-hand side.

Defender Robbie Deas replaced winger Danny Armstrong in the Killie reshuffle and the Ayrshire outfit defended a Gers onslaught which included eight minutes of added time but not a lot of threat, until Lundstram’s lofted cross was directed in by Silva from 12 yards.

Davies took over from Leon Balogun for his first action since December and Rangers were soon on the front foot again, with Sterling failing to connect from 14 yards out.

The Light Blues attacks came in waves but Kilmarnock held firm until Dennis spilled a powerful drive by Lundstram with Davies the first to react to force the ball over the line from two yards out.

Rangers kept pushing and striker Cyriel Dessers hesitated once more when in a decent shooting position before Mohamed Diomande smacked the bar with a long-distance effort.

Lundstram came close with a curling shot from 20 yards before Lawrence took a pass from fellow substitute Ross McCausland, turned inside defender turns Lewis Mayo and curled the ball high past Dennis to give the Light Blues some breathing space – something they will not get at Celtic Park next week.

There was still time for Souttar to head in from close range after Dennis had parried a Lawrence drive into the air.


Scottish PremiershipKilmarnockRangers
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