Falkirk 0-2 Rangers
Good fortune came to Rangers' aid, turning a laboured performance into a victory over Falkirk.
The visitors struggled to impose themselves, and two Cammy Bell saves in the second-half were crucial.
It took a heavily deflected shot from Lewis Macleod to break the deadlock, then Nicky Clark added a second before the end.
The performance was flawed, but the result will provide some comfort and confidence for Rangers.
Ally McCoist's side brought all of their neuroses to Falkirk Stadium. Hearts had exposed them on the opening day of the league season, with a late winning goal and an early indication of the discontent that has gathered amongst the Ibrox support.
The trip to Falkirk was an opportunity to regroup, but also another occasion when the fallibilities could be laid bare.
It is early in the season, and there are new players to assimilate, but Rangers were short on confidence and authority.
Falkirk sensed that vulnerability, and a team that has long been capable of composed passing and athleticism set about trying to unnerve Rangers. Peter Houston's side, well organised and committed, had every incentive to pressure the visitors, to probe at their weaknesses.
There was plenty of encouragement for the home side. Rangers' defenders spent much of the opening half misplacing passes.
The most glaring culprit was Bilel Mohsni, who sent one ball spinning hopelessly out of the ground, while a short pass back would have been converted by Alex Cooper if Mohsni had not recovered the situation with a sliding tackle.
Falkirk were not at their most accomplished, but in Blair Alston they could call upon the game's most lithe, spirited and dangerous attacker.
His darts in and around the final third, and his instincts, carried him into dangerous positions. His cross would have been converted by Tom Taiwo if Bell had not grabbed the ball.
Alston poked a shot wide from inside the area the curled a free-kick just wide of the upright shortly before the interval.
With little clear discernible pattern to their play, Rangers were restricted to a long-range David Templeton shot that flew just wide.
Otherwise, they accumulated only doubt and unease. Darren McGregor began his stint at right-back looking uncomfortable, while Macleod and Templeton were peripheral, and Kris Boyd and Kenny Miller grew ever more frustrated.
Falkirk were entitled to feel encouraged, and there was a determined sense of adventure to their approach after the interval.
Cooper saw his free-kick tipped over by Bell from just beneath the crossbar, then the goalkeeper stopped David McCracken's header from the resulting corner on the goal-line.
Bell's technique and reflexes were admirable, but the saves were also critical. The home side were eager to exploit their opponents' uncertainties, and a goal would have struck right at Rangers' psychological frailities.
Instead, they clung on and that allowed room for a moment of good fortune.
Macleod was being speculative as he shot from 25 yards, but the effort took a heavy deflection off Will Vaulks which wrong-footed Jamie McDonald in the Falkirk goal and the ball rolled slowly into the corner of the net.
The goal rejuvenated the visitors, there was suddenly confidence in players who had previously been hesitant and indecisive.
That renewed sense of belief led to a second goal, since Rangers were bold enough to attempt a training ground move at a corner kick.
Macleod clipped a corner to Nicky Law, who steered a shot on target and Clark turned the ball over the line.
The scoreline was harsh on Falkirk and flattering to Rangers.
It is too early in the season to reach for definitive judgements - players and teams can always take time to gel - but it is clear enough that there are problems for McCoist to resolve.
The team seems imbalanced, the central defensive and midfield partnerships are not yet effective, and Macleod is more influential inside the pitch than out wide.
Management is about identifying the problems in a team and finding solutions. Rangers will feel better for the result, and Falkirk will feel heartened by aspects of their display, but work still needs to be done.
- 17MayburyBooked at 76mins
- 5McCrackenBooked at 78mins
- 7TaiwoBooked at 85mins
- 20CooperSubstituted forSibbaldat 82'minutes
- 4DurojaiyeSubstituted forBia Biat 69'minutes
- 28Bia Bi
- 3MohsniBooked at 40mins
- 11TempletonBooked at 53minsSubstituted forAirdat 68'minutes
- 18MillerSubstituted forClarkat 56'minutes
- Calum Murray
- Shots on Target