Match report as Rangers ended a run of three straight defeats in all competitions; Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side scored their first goals in September as they avoided four straight defeats with a 2-1 win over Dundee United; Antonio Colak scored both goals for the hosts
Sunday 18 September 2022 16:31, UK
Rangers ended a run of three straight defeats in all competitions after edging to a 2-1 victory over Dundee United in the Scottish Premiership.
After heavy defeats to Celtic, Ajax and Napoli in the Scottish Premiership and the Champions League respectively, the pressure was building on Giovanni van Bronckhorst and his side, but they got off to the perfect start against Dundee United thanks to Antonio Colak's low strike (8).
Rangers dominated possession for long periods of the first half but they failed to add to their lead until early in the second half, Colak converting Borna Barisic's cross to double the home side's advantage.
Liam Smith pulled a goal back for the visitors in the 59th minute, creating a nervy end to the game for Rangers, but Van Bronckhorst's side held on for a much-needed victory.
The win sees Rangers cut the gap to leaders Celtic to two points ahead of Ange Postecoglu's side's game against St Mirren, which is live on Sky Sports on Sunday (kick-off 12pm). Meanwhile, Dundee United, despite a spirited showing at Ibrox, stay bottom and without a win so far this season.
United, once again under the charge of caretaker boss Liam Fox, are still seeking a first league win of the season but will take encouragement from aspects of their play.
Allan McGregor remained in goal with Jon McLaughlin still injured but Colak took over from Alfredo Morelos, with 18-year-old Leon King in for James Sands and 20-year-old midfielder Charlie McCann making his first league start.
Veteran striker Steven Fletcher was absent from the visitors' squad with a thigh complaint, replaced by former Gers winger Glenn Middleton.
Despite an improved Gers performance against Napoli in midweek, the 3-0 defeat in the Champions League at Ibrox meant 11 goals conceded and none scored in three games, thus anything other than a victory against the Taysiders was unthinkable.
Before the game some Dundee United fans disrupted the minute's silence in memory of the Queen which led to some rancour. Boos and some chanting could be heard emanating from the corner of the stadium which housed several hundred Terrors supporters.
"Dundee United are aware of the actions of a small section of the crowd who chose to not respect the minute's silence before this afternoon's match at Ibrox.
"As a club, ahead of the game we reached out to advise our supporters of the pre-match arrangements with the expectation that the minute silence would be observed."
Rangers pounded the United defence from the kick-off and Ryan Kent and Scott Arfield missed chances before Colak, who was celebrating his 29th birthday, struck.
Skipper James Tavernier drove forward after robbing Ian Harkes and picked out the striker, who took a touch into the penalty area before driving low past United keeper Carljohan Eriksson for his eighth goal of the season.
The expected onslaught failed to materialise.
United came back into the game but Arfield passed up another opportunity when played in by Ryan Jack, missing the target with his drive from 16 yards.
Back came the Tannadice side again to the exasperation of the home fans and McGregor used his foot to stop Middleton's right-footed drive.
There was a United penalty claim early in the second half when attacker Tony Watt went down under pressure from Gers left-back Borna Barisic but referee Kevin Clancy took no action.
Barisic was then involved in the second Gers goal, his cross from the left knocked in at the near post by Colak.
However, moments after Sadat Anaku replaced Middleton, the United substitute was involved in the build-up to their goal with Jamie McGrath playing in Smith, whose low drive came off McGregor and flew high into the net.
Anxiety gripped Ibrox tight and groans were never far away as fans recalled the ease in which Celtic won 9-0 at Tannadice last month.
Van Bronckhorst took action and Arfield and Jack were replaced by Scott Wright and Malik Tillman in the 69th minute and, as the play stretched, Eriksson made saves from both newcomers but it was Rangers who were glad to hear the final whistle.
Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst: "It's a big win after the difficult weeks we've had. The result today was the most important thing.
"It should have been more comfortable. We started really well and got the early goal. We need to learn to kill games earlier. That's something we need to do better. That cost us at times last season.
"It's good to go into the international break with a win, now we can give players a bit of a rest to recharge for a demanding and tough run of games.
"It was good to give Leon (King) and Charlie (McCann) minutes. I think they both deserved it and I'm happy with the way they contributed."
Interim Dundee United boss Liam Fox: "I couldn't have asked for any more from the players in terms of attitude and application and there was some good stuff there, but we lost the game, so my overriding feeling is of disappointment.
"You always fear the worst going 2-0 down at a place like this but the players stood up, showed character, and we pushed right to the end."
Former Rangers striker Kris Boyd on Soccer Saturday:
"At this stage they [do look a million miles away from the title]. Celtic look much slicker.
"Rangers, for whatever reason, they get ahead early doors, and you'd expect at Ibrox, with the crowd behind them, that you'd kick on and go and smash Dundee United, but it wasn't to be.
"All credit to Dundee United for that and they had a few late chances as well.
"For Rangers at this moment in time, it's a victory, that's what they needed, but big, big improvements are needed."
Antonio Colak revealed his 'shut up' gesture to the Dundee United fans after scoring the first of his double in Rangers' 2-1 win at Ibrox was a response to their disrupting of the minute's silence in memory of the Queen.
Colak said: "We were silent at the start of the game because we know why.
"It is all about respect.
"It was my emotions because the whole crowd, 50,000 in the stadium, had this respect but some people didn't have that.
"It was just a moment and everyone should understand it."
Rangers will return from the international break with a trip to Hearts on October 1, live on Sky Sports. Kick-off 12:30pm.
Dundee United host St Johnstone on the same day. That match kicks off at 3pm.