Digital Football Journalist @ronnabe
Kilmarnock 1-2 Rangers: Connor Goldson gives Rangers opening-day win with late header
Rangers looked to have been denied when Stephen O'Donnell levelled late for Killie
Last Updated: 05/08/19 7:53am
Connor Goldson's injury-time winner gave Rangers an opening-day win as they beat Kilmarnock 2-1 at Rugby Park.
Goldson's bullet header ensured manager Steven Gerrard was not denied an opening-day win for the second season in a row, as Rangers found a way past a Kilmarnock side they had failed to beat across four league meetings in 2018/19.
They had looked like they would be disappointed when Stephen O'Donnell fired in a brilliant half-volley from Chris Burke's free-kick nine minutes from time, with Kilmarnock taking advantage of a much-improved second-half performance with a deserved leveller.
Scott Arfield had earlier given Gerrard's side a half-time lead with a close-range finish from another corner after Nikola Katic's header was saved by Laurentiu Branescu.
How Rangers won it late on
Rangers had to feel their way into the game as Kilmarnock held firm against their one-touch passing, determined to be more steadfast than in their Europa League humbling by Connor's Quay last month.
In open play, they frustrated Gerrard's side but some lax defending from a corner opened the door for the visitors. Arfield was left unmarked and when Katic's header was palmed into his path, he could not miss from four yards.
And moments before half-time, they should have been two ahead from another dead ball, when a free-kick from the right found Alfredo Morelos who was totally unmarked, but headed straight at Branescu.
A different Kilmarnock re-emerged after the break and finally began taking the game to their visitors. 11 minutes after the interval they should have been level, but Eamonn Brophy somehow turned Burke's low cross wide with the goal gaping.
They continued to control the second period and finally got their reward with nine minutes to go, when Burke swung in a free-kick which was missed by the group of players in the middle and fell perfectly for O'Donnell to volley home from the angle.
But that wasn't the end of the drama. With time running out, a James Tavernier corner was curled into the six-yard box and Goldson wrestled away from Kirk Broadfoot to power in a last-minute winner.
Gerrard: We would have lost that last season
Gerrard tempered any celebration after the Gers' last-minute win but did admit they may not have left Rugby Park with three points had they produced the same performance last season.
He told Sky Sports: "Maybe last year we would've drawn or lost that game. Wes has had to make a few good saves, we were wondering before the game whether they would be open and expansive, but when they play open and organised they're a tough nut to crack. They took 10 points off us last season, so we've already beaten our total from then but it's only one win.
"We need to be a bit more brave and go to get that second goal, help ourselves by being a bit more positive. I thought we were passing the ball for the sake of it in the second half without really creating enough. But we can't be bullied from a set-piece either."