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Rangers vs Kilmarnock. Scottish Premiership.

Ibrox StadiumAttendance49,553.

Rangers 4

  • F Soares Silva (53rd minute)
  • B Davies (62nd minute)
  • T Lawrence (71st minute)
  • J Souttar (93rd minute)

Kilmarnock 1

  • J Tavernier (12th minute own goal)
  • J Wright (sent off 22nd minute)

Rangers 4-1 Kilmarnock: Hosts overcome first-half chaos to claim win and close gap on Celtic

Match report and free match highlights as Rangers close the gap on Celtic to three points; James Tavernier scored own goal and missed penalty, but Fabio Silva equalised; Ben Davies and John Soutter scored in second half, either side of Tom Lawrence's excellent strike

Rangers' Tom Lawrence celebrates with Mohamed Diomande after scoring to make it 3-1
Image: Rangers' Tom Lawrence celebrates with Mohamed Diomande after scoring to make it 3-1

Rangers overcame a chaotic first half to claim a 4-1 victory over Kilmarnock and close the gap on Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic to three points.

With just three matches remaining, Rangers know they can move level with champions Celtic next Saturday - if they win the Old Firm at Parkhead, live on Sky Sports.

The afternoon began in dramatic fashion, with referee David Dickinson declining to award Rangers a penalty for a Corrie Ndaba handball despite VAR recommending a spot kick, before James Tavernier scored a clumsy own goal.

The Rangers captain's afternoon then went from bad to worse when his penalty was brilliantly saved by Will Dennis, with the spot kick awarded after another VAR review showed Joe Wright handled the ball on the line.

The Kilmarnock defender was sent off and Rangers finally made their superiority count, with Fabio Silva poking in the equaliser in first-half stoppage time.

The second half was dominated by the hosts, who broke down Kilmarnock's resistance thanks to goals from Ben Davies and John Souttar, as well as a stunning strike by Tom Lawrence.

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Kilmarnock took the lead after an unfortunate James Tavernier own goal

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Tavernier had his penalty saved after Joe Wright was given a straight red

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Rangers forward Fabio Silva tucked away a neat finish to make it 1-1

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Ben Davies put Rangers 2-1 up as he reacted quickest after Will Dennis spilled John Lundstram's long-range effort

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Tom Lawrence scored a sensational long-range strike to put Rangers 3-1 up

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John Souttar's late header made it 4-1

How Rangers came back to earn vital win

For most of the first half, it looked as though Celtic would be presented with the opportunity to seal the title with a win at home to Rangers on Saturday, with Kilmarnock holding a shock lead at Ibrox.

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Tavernier, so often Rangers' saviour, inadvertently diverted a loose ball beyond Jack Butland after 12 minutes to put Kilmarnock ahead and spark nervousness around Ibrox.

Rangers had earlier been denied a penalty when Dickinson was called to the monitor to review an innocuous handball by Ndaba, only for the referee to correctly stick with his original decision.

Team news

  • Rangers were unchanged from their win over St Mirren, while Kilmarnock started Corrie Ndaba in place of Robbie Deas.

However, Dickinson was again called to the monitor a short while later and this time had no option but to agree with the VAR, with replays showing Wright had blocked the ball with his arm just yards from goal.

Tavernier spurned his opportunity to make amends when Dennis tipped his penalty wide, and Rangers - perhaps rattled - struggled to break down Kilmarnock for the rest of the first half.

However, Ibrox breathed a collective sigh of relief when Silva found the net in the ninth minute of added time, stealing behind Lewis Mayo and poking the ball into the far corner.

The second half was barely a contest, with Rangers registering 25 shots against their tiring visitors, eventually taking the lead when Davies bundled in after Dennis saved from John Lundstram.

Mohamed Diomande then rattled the bar with a mishit cross before Lawrence produced the highlight of the afternoon, tricking his way past three defenders before bending a finish past Dennis.

There was still time for Souttar to nod in a fourth that helped Rangers not only close the gap on Celtic but chip into their rivals' superior goal difference ahead of a huge Old Firm meeting on Saturday, live on Sky Sports.

Clement: We will battle until the end

Rangers boss Philippe Clement said: "A lot of VAR today and a strange thing that we didn’t get a penalty at the start of the game. We've had some penalties against us for less this season.

"But my team kept on pushing, whatever the circumstances. We started really well but you need that small part of luck.

"We were dominant all game and we deserved four goals. A lot of teams struggle against 10, because they lower their tempo or lose their structure. We created enough to score more than four goals.

"We will battle hard until the end."

McInnes: Scoreline harsh on Kilmarnock

Kilmarnock boss Derek McInnes said: "Disappointing - I thought it was a decent game until we went down to 10 men.

"We get ourselves in front and showed good personality. I thought we were good value and they never played through us."

On the red card and penalty, McInnes said: "Obviously rules are rules, I’m not here to debate that, but it just seems really harsh. It was accidental."

He added: "I thought we could have done better with a couple of the goals but I think 4-1 is a bit harsh, considering the circumstances."

What's next?

Rangers' next game is a huge trip to Celtic on Saturday, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 12.30pm.

Philippe Clement's side then host Dundee on Tuesday May 14, live on Sky Sports - kick-off 7.30pm - before ending their Scottish Premiership campaign at Hearts on Saturday May 18; kick-off 12.30pm.

Rangers then face Celtic again in the Scottish Cup final on Saturday May 25; kick-off 3pm.

Kilmarnock's next outing is at St Mirren on Saturday; kick-off 3pm. Derek McInnes' side then host Celtic on Wednesday May 15, live on Sky Sports - kick-off 7.30pm - before travelling to Dundee in the final game of the season on Saturday May 18; kick-off 12.30pm.

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