Scottish Premiership
RangersRangers4Ross CountyRoss County1

Rangers 4-1 Ross County: Hosts' reign as champions officially over despite ending visitors' European hopes

By Nick McPheatBBC Scotland
Rangers v Ross County

Rangers' reign as Scottish Premiership champions is officially over despite ending Ross County's European hopes with a comfortable home victory.

The hosts were rewarded for relentless early pressure when Scott Wright buried the opener from close range before James Tavernier added a second from the penalty spot.

County gave themselves an unlikely lifeline when Jordan White curled in, but the Ibrox side sealed the win with late goals from substitutes Fashion Sakala and Amad Diallo.

Celtic's draw at Dundee United means the gap at the top is four points, but with just one game remaining the title is now beyond Rangers, who had a six-point gap and an inferior goal difference of 20 to make up prior to kick-off.

"It was a good performance," Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst said. "We wanted to keep winning and keep the momentum going.

"It is finding the right balance. Obviously you want to keep going, you want to test players, but it is also important to get the rhythm and keep on playing and I think I saw that in my team."

The point earned by United, coupled with Motherwell's win at home to Hearts, also means European football is out of reach for County, who are now four points off fifth spot.

The domestic disappointment of letting a six-point lead slip has been dusted away by the building excitement of next Wednesday's Europa League final, but Rangers were still keen to treat their fans in their final home game of the season.

After a spell of early pressure in which Joe Aribo guided narrowly wide and John Lundstram was denied from close range, the Ibrox side opened the scoring after 13 minutes when Connor Goldson's near-post flick on was diverted in by Wright.

Rangers' fluid frontline - with teenager Alex Lowry at the heart of it - was causing County all kinds of problems, and it felt a matter of time before they added to their advantage.

County did well to pack the box and get their bodies in the way, but Alex Iacovitti's reckless sliding challenge on Tavernier allowed the Rangers captain to pick himself up and slot a spot kick past Ross Laidlaw.

Substitute White's fine curling effort from 20 yards gave County a glimmer of hope after Leon Balogun had headed off the far post at the other end.

But the visitors - who were lucky to have 11 men on the park after Jake Vokins' poor tackle on Wright - failed to capitalise as Sakala's diving header added a third for Rangers, before Diallo tapped in from Bassey's cross to cap off an easy night's work.

Man of the match - Scott Wright

Scott Wright
The forward was robbed for County's goal but was a constant option and a bright spark in attack throughout the game

What did we learn?

With a potential career-defining night on the horizon for this group next Wednesday, and a Scottish Cup final to come a week on Saturday, reflection on the Premiership campaign can wait.

But no doubt when the time comes, Van Bronckhorst will have to analyse what went wrong after the winter break.

One positive the Dutchman can take from recent domestic games, however, is the impressive showings of 18-year-old Lowry. The Ibrox academy product looks more than ready to play a fair share of first-team minutes next term.

With top scorer Regan Charles-Cook and first-choice striker White starting on the bench, County boss Malky Mackay appeared to have one eye on Saturday's clash with United.

Regardless of who started, it would have been a tough ask for the Highland side to take anything from the game anyway - but with Europe now out of sight, Mackay will surely question his team selection.

A top-six finish is still a remarkable achievement, but fifth spot was a real possibility. Post-split defeats to both Old Firm clubs have not determined that, though. Saturday's defeat at home to Motherwell is the one Mackay will pinpoint as being pivotal.

What did they say?

Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst: "In the first half we were going at full speed. The rhythm was good, we were creating a lot of chances and there should have been more goals.

"In the second half we could rotate. It is important this week to give as many players minutes to be ready for the games that come ahead."

Ross County manager Malky Mackay: "I am really proud of the players. There is an immediate disappointment because we couldn't take it to the last game of the season.

"But I spoke to the players and told them how proud I was of them this season when you think of the budget of the football club. We have consistently shown we can go toe-to-toe with most teams in the league."

What's next?

Both sides end their league campaigns on Saturday (12:15 BST) as Rangers travel to Hearts in a dress rehearsal of the Scottish Cup final, while Ross County are at home to Dundee United.

Player of the match

DialloAmad Diallo

with an average of 7.68

Rangers

  1. Squad number9Player nameDiallo
    Average rating

    7.68

  2. Squad number10Player nameDavis
    Average rating

    7.42

  3. Squad number30Player nameSakala
    Average rating

    7.39

  4. Squad number26Player nameBalogun
    Average rating

    7.35

  5. Squad number2Player nameTavernier
    Average rating

    7.27

  6. Squad number4Player nameLundstram
    Average rating

    7.22

  7. Squad number3Player nameBassey
    Average rating

    7.18

  8. Squad number14Player nameKent
    Average rating

    7.15

  9. Squad number17Player nameAyodele-Aribo
    Average rating

    7.14

  10. Squad number23Player nameWright
    Average rating

    7.10

  11. Squad number6Player nameGoldson
    Average rating

    7.06

  12. Squad number18Player nameKamara
    Average rating

    7.06

  13. Squad number31Player nameBarisic
    Average rating

    7.02

  14. Squad number37Player nameArfield
    Average rating

    6.83

  15. Squad number1Player nameMcGregor
    Average rating

    6.68

  16. Squad number51Player nameLowry
    Average rating

    4.31

Ross County

  1. Squad number10Player nameSamuel
    Average rating

    6.99

  2. Squad number1Player nameLaidlaw
    Average rating

    6.75

  3. Squad number23Player nameHungbo
    Average rating

    5.63

  4. Squad number22Player nameTillson
    Average rating

    5.62

  5. Squad number3Player nameVokins
    Average rating

    5.59

  6. Squad number16Player nameIacovitti
    Average rating

    5.56

  7. Squad number8Player nameCallachan
    Average rating

    5.55

  8. Squad number18Player nameBurroughs
    Average rating

    5.47

  9. Squad number7Player nameSpittal
    Average rating

    5.41

  10. Squad number5Player nameBaldwin
    Average rating

    5.36

  11. Squad number15Player nameWatson
    Average rating

    5.25

  12. Squad number4Player nameCancola
    Average rating

    5.15

  13. Squad number32Player nameMackinnon
    Average rating

    5.00

  14. Squad number26Player nameWhite
    Average rating

    4.67

  15. Squad number17Player nameCharles-Cook
    Average rating

    4.58

  16. Squad number24Player namePaton
    Average rating

    4.27

Line-ups

Rangers

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1McGregor
  • 2Tavernier
  • 6Goldson
  • 3Bassey
  • 31BarisicSubstituted forBalogunat 45'minutes
  • 4LundstramSubstituted forDavisat 62'minutes
  • 51Lowry
  • 18Kamara
  • 23WrightSubstituted forArfieldat 73'minutes
  • 17Ayodele-AriboSubstituted forDialloat 45'minutes
  • 14KentSubstituted forSakalaat 62'minutes

Substitutes

  • 9Diallo
  • 10Davis
  • 16Ramsey
  • 19Sands
  • 26Balogun
  • 30Sakala
  • 33McLaughlin
  • 37Arfield
  • 43King

Ross County

Formation 4-4-1-1

  • 1Laidlaw
  • 15WatsonBooked at 65mins
  • 5BaldwinBooked at 50mins
  • 16Iacovitti
  • 3VokinsBooked at 58mins
  • 23HungboSubstituted forMackinnonat 87'minutes
  • 7SpittalSubstituted forCancolaat 61'minutesSubstituted forPatonat 70'minutes
  • 22Tillson
  • 18BurroughsSubstituted forCharles-Cookat 70'minutes
  • 8CallachanSubstituted forWhiteat 61'minutes
  • 10SamuelBooked at 90mins

Substitutes

  • 4Cancola
  • 11Sims
  • 17Charles-Cook
  • 20Drysdale
  • 21Munro
  • 24Paton
  • 26White
  • 30Wright
  • 32Mackinnon
Referee:
Andrew Dallas
Attendance:
48,474

Match Stats

Home TeamRangersAway TeamRoss County
Possession
Home80%
Away20%
Shots
Home33
Away3
Shots on Target
Home8
Away1
Corners
Home8
Away1
Fouls
Home5
Away11

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Rangers 4, Ross County 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Rangers 4, Ross County 1.

  3. Goal!

    Goal! Rangers 4, Ross County 1. Amad Diallo (Rangers) left footed shot from the right side of the six yard box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Calvin Bassey.

  4. Post update

    Offside, Rangers. James Tavernier tries a through ball, but Scott Arfield is caught offside.

  5. Substitution

    Substitution, Ross County. Adam Mackinnon replaces Joseph Hungbo.

  6. Post update

    Attempt missed. Amad Diallo (Rangers) left footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Scott Arfield.

  7. Post update

    Attempt missed. Fashion Sakala (Rangers) right footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Alexander Lowry.

  8. Goal!

    Goal! Rangers 3, Ross County 1. Fashion Sakala (Rangers) header from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by James Tavernier with a cross following a corner.

  9. Post update

    Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Jake Vokins.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Leon Balogun (Rangers).

  11. Post update

    Ben Paton (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  12. Post update

    Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Jake Vokins.

  13. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Amad Diallo (Rangers) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Calvin Bassey with a cross.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Scott Arfield (Rangers).

  15. Post update

    Ben Paton (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Post update

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

  17. Post update

    Foul by Alex Iacovitti (Ross County).

  18. Post update

    Foul by Amad Diallo (Rangers).

  19. Post update

    Jake Vokins (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Substitution

    Substitution, Rangers. Scott Arfield replaces Scott Wright.

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic37286386226490
2Rangers37268377304786
3Hearts3717101053411261
4Motherwell371210154255-1346
5Dundee Utd371112143543-845
6Ross County371011164659-1341
7Livingston371210153945-646
8St Mirren371013143351-1843
9Hibernian371012153442-842
10Aberdeen371010174146-540
11St Johnstone37811182447-2335
12Dundee37611203362-2929
View full Scottish Premiership table

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