Rangers close on Celtic after Killie comeback
Rangers left it late to secure a 2-1 win over Kilmarnock at Ibrox to move two points behind Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premier League. The home side took the lead in the 38th minute when El-Hadji Diouf fired home his first league goal.
However, Kilmarnock were level on the hour mark when they were awarded a controversial penalty for a high-footed challenge by Richard Foster on Tim Glancy that Jamie Hamill converted.
With time running out substitute Vladimir Weiss came to the rescue for Rangers when his cross was knocked into his own net by Glancy when Killie were temporarily down to ten men as Mohammadou Sissoko was off receiving treatment.
Taking advantage of Celtic's involvement in the Scottish Cup the win means Walter Smith's side could go top if they win their game in hand over the Hoops. The Rangers manager was happy to claim the win.
"I thought it would be a difficult 90 minutes for us today after a European match," Smith said.
"We weren't as sharp as we have been in some of our other games and Kilmarnock this season have been dangerous opponents for everyone so from our point of view we are delighted to win the game."
Mixu Paatenlainen said he was disappointed for his players.
"I thought the performance was good, organised and I thought we passed the ball well especially the midfield area which I felt we dominated," the Killie manager said. "Rangers were a little bit fortunate to win this game but good teams are fortunate."
Rangers restored Nikica Jelavic, Sasa Papac and Allan McGregor to Sunday's starting line-up. Killie had to do without the suspended Frazer Wright and Alexei Eremenko but despite being without their Finnish playmaker they carved out the first opportunity when David Silva found time in the box to curl a shot just wide of the post.
Rangers were showing some signs of a European hangover after their exploits in Eindhoven on Thursday night and took time to settle. Kyle Bartley, who scored his first senior goal last weekend, came close to another when his header from Diouf's corner had to be tipped over before the Senegalese striker fired wide from six yards.
Madjid Bougherra, on one of his frequent forays forward, saw his low dangerous cross nearly turned into his own net by Manuel Pascali before Bartley headed another Diouf corner over.
Rangers broke the deadlock in the 38th minute. After a surging run forward Steven Whittaker picked out Diouf in the box and the on-loan Blackburn man fired an angled shot past Anssi Jaakkola from wide right for his first goal at Ibrox.
Killie found themselves level after they were awarded a penalty on the hour mark when Foster was penalised for his challenge on Glancy. McGregor guessed the right way but Hamill's penalty flew in over his outstretched arm. Three minutes later Rangers were appealing for a penalty of their own when Jelavic went down in the box but referee Alan Muir waved away their protests.
Rangers leave it late
Diouf then won a free-kick in a decent position wide right and his ball into the box landed at the feet of Bartley who vollied over from seven yards out.
Rangers brought on Kyle Lafferty and Weiss as they searched for a winner and Bougherra had the ball in the net in the 83rd minute when he headed Davis' lofted ball past Jaakkola but the flag was up for offside.
Rangers threw everyone forward in the final minutes and they got their reward with three minutes remaining while Killie player Sissoko was off the field receiving treatment. Weiss danced down the left wing before sending a low cross into the six-yard box which the sliding Clancy knocked past the keeper as he attempted to clear it as Rangers claimed all three points.