Scottish Premiership
RangersRangers1KilmarnockKilmarnock0

Rangers edge Kilmarnock to extend lead to 21 points thanks to Ryan Jack's stunner

By Clive LindsayBBC Sport Scotland

Rangers moved 21 points clear of Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership thanks to Ryan Jack's stunning finish against Kilmarnock at Ibrox.

The Scotland midfielder's volley just before the break was enough to give Steven Gerrard's side a 14th consecutive home league win.

Dogged Kilmarnock limited the leaders to a handful of chances.

But they rarely threatened at the other end and have now lost both games under new manager Tommy Wright.

Hamilton Academical's win away to Motherwell means Kilmarnock are now only a point above the bottom two sides, having played more games than both.

A seventh defeat in a row for the Ayrshire side - and their third in succession this season against Rangers without scoring - will leave Wright in no doubt that, while Gerrard's side continue to edge closer to the title, his new charges face a fight against relegation unless they can find goals from somewhere.

It is the reason why Wright this week signed Kyle Lafferty following the Northern Ireland international's exit from Reggina, but the former Rangers striker's lack of match fitness denied him a debut against his former side.

They could certainly have done with more bite up front against a Rangers side who again failed to reach their early-season heights following Sunday's disappointing display in drawing with Hamilton.

With both Kemar Roofe and Alfredo Morelos suspended and Cedric Itten on his own up front, Gerrard's team were proving toothless in attack and another frustrating afternoon looked in store as they struggled to tip-tap their way through Kilmarnock's crowded 4-5-1 formation.

James Tavernier had the ball in the net from Itten's neat flick only to be ruled offside, but that was their only clear sight until a sublime bit of skill from Jack eight minutes before the break.

After a couple of Kilmarnock blocks inside the penalty box, it fell to the Scotland midfielder 18 yards out and he controlled it neatly with the instep then volleyed it powerfully past goalkeeper Colin Doyle.

It was a finish that fully justified Gerrard's decision to restore Jack and Steven Davis to his midfield.

Either because the goal inspired Rangers or because the visitors were forced to look for an equaliser, the home side were suddenly finding a little more space and Doyle's fingertips denied Ryan Kent drives either side of the break.

Joe Aribo also squandered a great chance when put clean through by Kent.

Kilmarnock will probably feel aggrieved that they were not given the chance of an equaliser when they were denied a late free-kick after Danny Whitehall was fouled by Leon Balogun just outside the penalty box, but a draw would have flattered the visitors.

Man of the match - Ryan Kent

Rangers' Ryan Kent (left) rises for a high ball
Rangers winger Ryan Kent (left) was a constant threat to the Kilmarnock defence

What did we learn?

Gerrard will be pleased that the Rangers juggernaut is back on track after that little hiccup against Accies last weekend.

There is no sign of the second half of the season collapses that have dogged his time as Rangers boss and they are developing the habit of champions: grinding out wins despite not playing at their best and while without their top marksmen.

Wright knew the magnitude of his task when he took charge of Kilmarnock and the latest defeat will underline the need to get Lafferty up to speed as quickly as possible.

They are now on the worst losing run from any team in the Premiership this season. However, as with Wednesday's narrow defeat by Motherwell, he will again take positives from a spirited performance.

What they said

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard: "Fantastic goal - any midfielder would be happy with a strike like that.

"We came off ourselves last week in terms of our identity, but we bounced back today with another strong win even though the scoreline doesn't suggest that. That's another clean sheet - 14 wins out of 14 at home [in the league]."

Kilmarnock manager Tommy Wright: "I was disappointed at the goal on two points; one, we should clear our lines better and two, it was handball, after the header it hits the Rangers player's hand. The official should see that.

"Whilst there are positives in terms of the effort and work rate and the shape we had was good, ultimately there is huge disappointment that we didn't do enough in the final third."

What's next?

Rangers travel to Belgium to face Royal Antwerp in the Europa League last 32 on Thursday (20:00 GMT) before hosting Dundee United in the Premiership a week on Sunday (15:00). Meanwhile, Kilmarnock face another difficult away day against fourth-top Aberdeen next Saturday (15:00).

Line-ups

Rangers

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1McGregor
  • 2Tavernier
  • 6Goldson
  • 26Balogun
  • 31Barisic
  • 8Jack
  • 10Davis
  • 17Aribo
  • 7HagiSubstituted forWrightat 79'minutes
  • 11Itten
  • 14KentSubstituted forArfieldat 88'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Bassey
  • 5Helander
  • 9Defoe
  • 16Patterson
  • 18Kamara
  • 23Wright
  • 24Stewart
  • 33McLaughlin
  • 37Arfield

Kilmarnock

Formation 4-3-3

  • 16Doyle
  • 2McGowan
  • 4Dikamona
  • 24Medley
  • 3Haunstrup
  • 27TshibolaBooked at 75minsSubstituted forDaboat 80'minutes
  • 8DickerSubstituted forBurkeat 64'minutes
  • 21Mulumbu
  • 10Kiltie
  • 11Kabamba
  • 7McKenzieBooked at 56minsSubstituted forWhitehallat 79'minutes

Substitutes

  • 9Oakley
  • 12Whitehall
  • 14Rossi
  • 15Pierrick
  • 19Pinnock
  • 22Millen
  • 23Rogers
  • 26Dabo
  • 29Burke
Referee:
Don Robertson

Match Stats

Home TeamRangersAway TeamKilmarnock
Possession
Home63%
Away37%
Shots
Home13
Away2
Shots on Target
Home6
Away0
Corners
Home10
Away3
Fouls
Home16
Away16

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Rangers 1, Kilmarnock 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Rangers 1, Kilmarnock 0.

  3. Post update

    Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Brandon Haunstrup.

  4. Post update

    Joe Aribo (Rangers) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Youssouf Mulumbu (Kilmarnock).

  6. Post update

    Scott Wright (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Diaguely Dabo (Kilmarnock).

  8. Post update

    Foul by Cedric Itten (Rangers).

  9. Post update

    Clévid Dikamona (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Substitution

    Substitution, Rangers. Scott Arfield replaces Ryan Kent.

  11. Post update

    Foul by James Tavernier (Rangers).

  12. Post update

    Greg Kiltie (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  13. Post update

    Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Colin Doyle.

  14. Post update

    Attempt saved. Joe Aribo (Rangers) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Ryan Kent.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Scott Wright (Rangers).

  16. Post update

    Brandon Haunstrup (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Post update

    Offside, Rangers. Joe Aribo tries a through ball, but Cedric Itten is caught offside.

  18. Post update

    Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Clévid Dikamona.

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Kilmarnock. Diaguely Dabo replaces Aaron Tshibola.

  20. Post update

    Connor Goldson (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Rangers2925406986179
2Celtic27177361214058
3Hibernian28147739261349
4Aberdeen2812973128345
5Livingston28116113534139
6Dundee Utd29810112638-1234
7St Mirren2796122632-633
8St Johnstone2879122737-1030
9Motherwell2877142643-1728
10Kilmarnock2973192641-1524
11Hamilton2765162753-2623
12Ross County2865172153-3223
View full Scottish Premiership table

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