Home » Rangers 3-1 Ross County: Philippe Clement’s side go level with Celtic but miss chance to go top

Rangers 3-1 Ross County: Philippe Clement’s side go level with Celtic but miss chance to go top

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Rangers 3-1 Ross County: Philippe Clement’s side go level with Celtic but miss chance to go top

Cyriel Dessers’ dinked opener set the tone for a chances-laden evening.

Rangers moved level on points with Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic in a chaotic win over Ross County but failed to finish enough of their 23 efforts on target to move top of the table.

Visiting goalkeeper George Wickens’ 19 saves, a record since the Premiership era began in 2013, went a long way to preventing Philippe Clement’s side achieving the three-goal win that would have lifted them above the reigning champions.

A lovely lofted effort from Cyriel Dessers ignited Ibrox, but Simon Murray rocked the boat in Don Cowie’s first game as interim boss when he snuck in behind a sleeping defence to slam the visitors level.

Dessers would end the half with a deflected header to once again claim the lead and, having dominated throughout, Rangers would finally find the back of the net again when John Souttar nodded home in stoppage time.

Victory maintains the pressure on their city rivals, with the Old Firm sides now having played the same number of games, while County remain second bottom.

“I’m not busy with Celtic,” Clement told BBC Scotland. “I’m busy with Rangers. To make this team better, to take as many points as possible with this team, to win as many trophies with this team as possible. We are only busy with that.

“It was not about top spot. You can feel the momentum was there to make more goals – that hunger and desire.”

Dessers’ delightfully dinked finish was the opening Clement would have written on his script and it looked to prize open the floodgates at an expectant Ibrox.

Blue shirts practically lined up to add to Rangers’ tally, but just as the home crowd were baying for a knockout blow, they were blindsided by a sucker punch.

A hooked ball in behind found the returning Eamonn Brophy, who fizzed his delivery across the face as strike partner Murray pounced to prompt stunned silence in Govan.

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The quiet became discontent as Dessers twice passed up the opportunity for another, the second of which was dramatically blocked off the line by Ryan Leak.

Rangers’ enigmatic striker easily could have walked down the tunnel as the villain. Instead, he became the hero when he relocated his finishing abilities to steer a James Tavernier cross home with the help of a County deflection.

Fifteen minutes of reprieve from the madness did not seem to stem the flow. Wave after wave of home attack continued as Wickens stood tall to keep out half-time substitute Oscar Cortes and the influential Todd Cantwell.

Their profligacy was so nearly punished again at a rare County corner when Michee Efete’s bullet header zipped inches over the bar.

Cortes, Cantwell and co could have ensured a more comfortable finale before Souttar’s header, but as Clement said before the game, the title would not be decided on this night and three points may prove precious as a fierce title race rages on.

Player of the match – James Tavernier (Rangers)

A hat-trick of assists – just another day for the Rangers captain.

Double-sided coin for both – analysis

Understandably, there will be a sense of frustration from the home support that their towering pile of chances failed to provide the comfortable win that would have moved them into the driving seat in the Premiership.

Forty-three shots, 23 on target. The pressure was unrelenting on the County again, but Rangers could not find the decisive blow to sit top of the tree for the first time since August 2022.

Their three goals would have ended that long wait if not for their lapse of concentration at the back. When Murray found the back of the net, few inside Ibrox would scarcely believe what they were seeing, such was the dominance that had exhibited prior to the leveller.

While there will be some disappointment, it’s a game that previous iterations of Rangers might have found a way to draw or lose.

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In a title race as closely contested as the one unfolding this season, the priority is always three points. Rangers remain neck and neck with Celtic, with little sign of letting up any time soon.

While the statistics show that County were brutally battered, a sense of steel can somehow be salvaged.

How did they keep that scoreline down? The chief answer is Wickens, the Fulham loanee’s saves drawing the ire of the Ibrox crowd.

They could well have added a second equaliser if Efete’s effort was a few inches lower and Cowie will leave Govan knowing his players can huff and puff right to the end.

What they said

Rangers manger Philippe Clement: “It could have been a night with much more goals, but you need a little bit of luck. On the other side, there was a goalkeeper who had the night of his life – with some good saves and sometimes with luck on his side also.

“We will continue what we have been doing. It’s important to keep creating those chances and keep up the attacking football everybody loves to see.”

Interim Ross County manager Don Cowie: “I am very proud. Rangers were on top form. We had a little bit of luck on our side.

“They missed a few chances, our goalkeeper was very, very good. He was excellent. I’ve got two very good goalkeeper on the books. He dealt with it very, very well.”

What’s next?

Rangers travel to St Johnstone on Sunday (12:00 GMT), while Ross County are also on Tayside as they visit Dundee on Saturday (15:00).

Line-ups

Rangers

Formation 4-2-3-1

1Butland

2Tavernier6Goldson5Souttar3Yilmaz

11Lawrence4Lundstram

45McCausland13Cantwell17Matondo

9Dessers

1Butland2Tavernier6Goldson5Souttar3Yilmaz11LawrenceSubstituted forDiomandeat 79’minutes4Lundstram45McCauslandSubstituted forWrightat 72’minutes13CantwellBooked at 90mins17MatondoSubstituted forCortésat 45’minutes9DessersSubstituted forFábio Silvaat 72’minutesSubstitutes7Fábio Silva16Cortés23Wright26Davies28McCrorie31Barisic38King42Diomande43Raskin

Ross County

Formation 3-1-4-2

40Wickens

28Ayina42Leak24Efete

14Loturi

4Brown10Dhanda18King43Reid

27Brophy15Murray

40Wickens28Ayina42LeakBooked at 90mins24EfeteBooked at 11mins14Loturi4Brown10DhandaSubstituted forHendersonat 80’minutes18KingSubstituted forSheafat 71’minutes43ReidBooked at 65minsSubstituted forHarmonat 71’minutes27BrophySubstituted forWhiteat 55’minutes15MurraySubstituted forSim sat 80’minutesSubstitutes1Laidlaw3Borthwick-Jackson11Sims12Sheaf16Harmon17Henderson19Khela26White

Live Text

Match ends, Rangers 3, Ross County 1.

Second Half ends, Rangers 3, Ross County 1.

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Attempt missed. James Tavernier (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Mohamed Diomande.

Todd Cantwell (Rangers) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Ryan Leak (Ross County).

Ryan Leak (Ross County) is shown the yellow card.

Todd Cantwell (Rangers) is shown the yellow card.

Foul by Fábio Silva (Rangers).

Ryan Leak (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Óscar Cortés (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Todd Cantwell.

Offside, Rangers. Óscar Cortés is caught offside.

Goal! Rangers 3, Ross County 1. John Souttar (Rangers) header from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by James Tavernier with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Michee Efete.

Attempt blocked. Todd Cantwell (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Fábio Silva.

Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Jordan White.

Corner, Rangers. Conceded by James Brown.

Corner, Rangers. Conceded by George Harmon.

Mohamed Diomande (Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Ryan Leak (Ross County).

Attempt saved. John Lundstram (Rangers) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Fábio Silva.

Player of the match

KingEli King

Rangers

Squad number13Player nameCantwell

Squad number16Player nameCortés

Squad number9Player nameDessers

Squad number4Player nameLundstram

Squad number1Player nameButland

Squad number2Player nameTavernier

Squad number11Player nameLawrence

Squad number7Player nameFábio Silva

Squad number5Player nameSouttar

Squad number3Player nameYilmaz

Squad number45Player nameMcCausland

Squad number42Player nameDiomande

Squad number23Player nameWright

Squad number17Player nameMatondo

Squad number6Player nameGoldson

Ross County

Squad number18Player nameKing

Squad number40Player nameWickens

Squad number15Player nameMurray

Squad number43Player nameReid

Squad number27Player nameBrophy

Squad number24Player nameEfete

Squad number28Player nameAyina

Squad number11Player nameSims

Squad number14Player nameLoturi

Squad number10Player nameDhanda

Squad number42Player nameLeak

Squad number4Player nameBrown

Squad number12Player nameSheaf

Squad number16Player nameHarmon

Squad number17Player nameHenderson

Squad number26Player nameWhite

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