Scottish Premiership

Kilmarnock 1-2 Rangers: Connor Goldson header earns win for Steven Gerrard's side

By Tom EnglishBBC Scotland at Rugby Park

Connor Goldson's stoppage-time header ensured Rangers enjoyed a winning start to their Scottish Premiership campaign after a dramatic meeting at Kilmarnock.

Steven Gerrard's side - who lost both visits to Rugby Park last term - looked on course for a fourth win in five this season after Scott Arfield forced in.

But the Ibrox side's familiar flaw of losing late goals appeared to have struck again when Stephen O'Donnell lashed in a leveller, only for Goldson to ram a header past Laurentiu Branescu to clinch victory.

That goal was met with a pitch invasion by jubilant Rangers supporters, which appeared to result in damage to a roof covering disabled supporters at the front of the stand housing away fans.

Defeat was a second in three matches for new Rugby Park manager Angelo Alessio, who has come under pressure after losing to Welsh part-timers Connah's Quay Nomads in the Europa League.

'Revisionism required & something to build on'

The narrative going into this game was that Kilmarnock were teetering on the brink of a crisis in the post Steve Clarke age and that Rangers were on the cusp of a title challenge with their new players and their increased confidence.

What did it look like out there? That some revisionism is required on Killie. They're not doomed. Their spirit is as strong as ever it was. They got done in the end by that late, late Goldson goal but there will be a more optimism around Rugby Park next week after this.

Rangers? They aren't about to scare the wits out of the champions any time soon, but they came up with an answer at a time when most would have doubted their capacity to do so. The pitch invasion afterwards from the visiting fans was ridiculous and demands action, particularly since it seemed to cause the collapse of the roof of the disabled section containing Rangers supporters. Crazy behaviour.

Gerrard's boys took the lead early in the game, James Tavernier's corner being met by Nikola Katic, who had strolled away from the absent-minded Stuart Findlay. Katic's close-range header was parried away by Branescu but the loose ball fell at the feet of Arfield who had the simplest job of tapping it in.

For Kilmarnock fans, traumatised by the exit from Europe and fretful about what might happen to them here, it was a nightmarish beginning. For Alessio, their manager with an awful lot to prove, it was a horribly soft goal so early in his league reign.

The locals would have feared the worst, perhaps, but what they saw would have looked pleasantly familiar to them. Kilmarnock stuck in and grew in confidence. Rangers were regularly a threat from corners but they were contained easily elsewhere for large parts of the afternoon, until that last act.

Scott Arfield's goal had looked like earning Rangers the win
Scott Arfield's goal gave Rangers an early lead

Kilmarnock came out for the second half with serious intent. All of a sudden they carried a threat and should have equalised just short of the hour when Chris Burke cut a precise ball in from the right to Eamonn Brophy, who had darted free to the front post. He had to score, but didn't. It was a miss that made Rugby Park cringe.

Gerrard's team had a tough job in putting teams away last season and the manager brought on former Rugby Park favourite Jordan Jones - to a cacophony of boos - to try to get that second goal.

A goal arrived right enough, but it went to Kilmarnock. Again it was a fine delivery from Burke that created it and this time O'Donnell did what Brophy couldn't. He rifled it into the roof of Wes Foderingham's net at the back post.

Joe Aribo, wholly ineffective along with the other big Rangers signing, Sheyi Ojo, finally found something with only a minute to go, curling a shot that was was goal-bound until Branescu made a wonderful flying save to push it away for a corner.

From that set-piece the game turned again. Tavernier's excellent delivery was met forcefully by Goldson. Another concession from a corner. This time, fatal. Rangers celebrated the joy of a last-minute winner, but when their supporters flowed on to the pitch it was alarming.

The relief on Gerrard's face was unmistakable. Dropping points on the opening day of their season was not in the plan. Alessio looked shattered, but he's got something to build on now after the stress of his early weeks in the job.

Stephen O'Donnell's strike looked like it would earn Kilmarnock a point
Stephen O'Donnell's strike looked like it would earn Kilmarnock a point

Man of the match - James Tavernier

Had it not been for that dramatic late winner, it might have gone to Greg Taylor or Alan Power or Burke of Kilmarnock. In the second half, all of those guys put in doughty performances.

Instead, Tavernier gets it. Rangers have a huge amount of work to do, but they got through this antsy day with a win and Tavernier's quality was a key reason. His delivery for the first goal was effectively an assist. His corner planted on Goldson's header at the end could not have been more accurate had he measured it with a slide rule.

Rangers buck trend - stats


'It's too early to talk about titles' - reaction

Kilmarnock manager Angelo Alessio: "It was a great shame at the end. We deserved a better result because we played very well in the second half.

"But it's still important to analyse the defeat as we lost two goals from two corners and we can't afford that. We played well but there are areas we still have to improve, but now we prepare for Hamilton."

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard: "It is too early to talk about titles. We are 90 minutes into a season. I understand people are going to ask questions and talk about us an awful lot.

"For me we just focus from game to game. We want to fight as hard as we can all the way to the end. It certainly helps when you start well. This is the start I was looking for."



Formation 4-3-3

  • 12Branescu
  • 2O'Donnell
  • 5Broadfoot
  • 17Findlay
  • 3Taylor
  • 6PowerBooked at 15mins
  • 8DickerBooked at 90mins
  • 15El MakriniSubstituted forKiltieat 71'minutes
  • 29Burke
  • 9Brophy
  • 7McKenzieSubstituted forBruceat 90+1'minutes


  • 1MacDonald
  • 4Bruce
  • 10Kiltie
  • 20Wilson
  • 22Millen
  • 23Thomas
  • 31Cameron


Formation 4-3-3

  • 13Foderingham
  • 2TavernierBooked at 25mins
  • 6Goldson
  • 19KaticBooked at 90mins
  • 31Barisic
  • 8Jack
  • 10DavisSubstituted forEdmundsonat 90+2'minutes
  • 17Aribo
  • 11OjoSubstituted forJonesat 78'minutes
  • 20Morelos
  • 37ArfieldSubstituted forStewartat 88'minutes


  • 4Edmundson
  • 9Defoe
  • 16Halliday
  • 18Kamara
  • 22Jones
  • 24Stewart
  • 26Firth
William Collum

Match Stats

Home TeamKilmarnockAway TeamRangers
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Kilmarnock 1, Rangers 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Kilmarnock 1, Rangers 2.

  3. Post update

    Foul by Alan Power (Kilmarnock).

  4. Post update

    Greg Stewart (Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  5. Post update

    Gary Dicker (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Greg Stewart (Rangers).

  7. Substitution

    Substitution, Rangers. George Edmundson replaces Steven Davis.

  8. Goal!

    Goal! Kilmarnock 1, Rangers 2. Connor Goldson (Rangers) header from the centre of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by James Tavernier with a cross following a corner.

  9. Substitution

    Substitution, Kilmarnock. Alex Bruce replaces Rory McKenzie.

  10. Booking

    Gary Dicker (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  11. Post update

    Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Laurentiu Branescu.

  12. Post update

    Attempt saved. Joe Aribo (Rangers) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner.

  13. Substitution

    Substitution, Rangers. Greg Stewart replaces Scott Arfield.

  14. Post update

    Attempt saved. Jordan Jones (Rangers) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

  15. Goal!

    Goal! Kilmarnock 1, Rangers 1. Stephen O'Donnell (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Chris Burke following a set piece situation.

  16. Post update

    Greg Kiltie (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Connor Goldson (Rangers).

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Rangers. Jordan Jones replaces Sheyi Ojo.

  19. Post update

    Delay in match because of an injury Alan Power (Kilmarnock).

  20. Post update

    Alan Power (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

As It Stood

2Ross County11003033
10St Mirren100101-10
12St Johnstone100107-70
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