Scottish Premiership
Rangers1Kilmarnock0

Rangers 1-0 Kilmarnock: Alfredo Morelos breaks Kilmarnock resistance

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Highlights: Rangers 1-0 Kilmarnock

Rangers stay five points behind Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic as Alfredo Morelos came off the bench to break stiff Kilmarnock resistance.

Morelos was named among the substitutes on his return from suspension as manager Steven Gerrard stuck with the starting XI that defeated Hibernian.

Rangers had most of the chances only to be thwarted by the crossbar and goalkeeper Laurentiu Branescu.

But Morelos fired home seven minutes after coming on after the break.

It means Rangers, now unbeaten at Ibrox in nine games and with a game in hand over their city rivals, head to Celtic Park on Sunday after three consecutive wins without losing a goal.

Kilmarnock have dropped to sixth, have now lost four in a row, having not won in six, not scored in five and not won away from home in four.

Back to future Kilmarnock frustrate

Both managers sprung surprises ahead of kick-off, with Gerrard leaving top scorer Morelos on the bench.

Whether sticking with the same starting XI was a reward for Friday's convincing win at Easter Road or with one eye on the forthcoming Old Firm derby, it also meant that Steven Davis also had to make do with a place among the substitutes on his return from injury.

Gerrard had guessed in his pre-match interview that, after the sacking of Angelo Alessio, Kilmarnock caretaker boss Alex Dyer would return to the more conservative approach deployed under Steve Clarke - a strategy that meant the Ayrshire side had only lost once in five league visits to Ibrox.

So it turned out as Dyer dropped Scotland striker Eamonn Brophy and veteran former Rangers winger Chris Burke to the bench to rely on the speed of on-loan Liverpool forward Liam Millar as his lone out-ball.

Rangers initially continued where they left off in Edinburgh, with Jermain Defoe having an effort deflected wide and Nikola Katic firing past a post within the opening minutes.

Clarke's philosophy was to be difficult to beat while making the best of your own chances and Niko Hamalainen came close to doing just that as the Finland full-back's shot deflected wide off James Tavernier on a rare foray into Rangers' half.

As Borna Barisic fired straight at Kilmarnock goalkeeper Laurentiu Branescu, Connor Goldson's goal-bound header deflected off team-mate Defoe and Glen Kamara's snap shot clipped the crossbar, Rangers' frustration deepened as the wall of nine yellow jerseys behind striker Millar stood firm by half-time.

Branescu was proving a stubborn barrier and, when Kilmarnock's Alan Power forced Allan McGregor into a save on the break, Gerrard responded by sending on Morelos for Defoe.

The Colombian's 28th goal of the season was to follow soon after as he finished off a sweet passing move involving Ryan Jack and Joe Aribo.

A few more chances, a few nervous moments at the other end, but Gerrard's gamble paid off and Morelos heads to Celtic Park fit, free of suspension and brimming with confidence ahead of what could prove a decisive game in the title race.

Steven Gerrard

'Sorry if it didn't look pretty' - reaction

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard: "Killie set us a challenge, come and beat us and they made it very difficult for us. We found a way, which is very pleasing.

"I apologise if it didn't look pretty for the supporters, that it wasn't three, four or five goals. But I'm going away very happy because it's a win and a clean sheet."

Interim Kilmarnock manager Alex Dyer: "We were outstanding. Everyone worked hard, they were confident, I was chuffed with them - very pleased.

"We knew what kind of game it was going to be. It was just about us having discipline and sticking to a game plan and hopefully we would create a couple of opportunities - which we did do."

Line-ups

Rangers

  • 1McGregor
  • 2Tavernier
  • 6Goldson
  • 19Katic
  • 31Barisic
  • 37ArfieldSubstituted forStewartat 64'minutes
  • 8Jack
  • 18Kamara
  • 17Aribo
  • 9DefoeSubstituted forMorelosat 58'minutes
  • 14KentSubstituted forDavisat 78'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Edmundson
  • 10Davis
  • 13Foderingham
  • 15Flanagan
  • 20Morelos
  • 22Jones
  • 24Stewart

Kilmarnock

  • 12Branescu
  • 22MillenSubstituted forBurkeat 68'minutes
  • 26Del Fabro
  • 4BruceBooked at 66mins
  • 14Hämäläinen
  • 20WilsonBooked at 10mins
  • 6Power
  • 8Dicker
  • 15El MakriniSubstituted forThomasat 84'minutes
  • 11MillarBooked at 47minsSubstituted forBrophyat 63'minutes
  • 7McKenzie

Substitutes

  • 5Johnson
  • 9Brophy
  • 23Thomas
  • 24Koprivec
  • 28Sow
  • 29Burke
  • 32Brindley
Referee:
Steven McLean
Attendance:
49,885

Match Stats

Home TeamRangersAway TeamKilmarnock
Possession
Home50%
Away50%
Shots
Home19
Away3
Shots on Target
Home7
Away2
Corners
Home12
Away1
Fouls
Home10
Away11

Live Text

Match ends, Rangers 1, Kilmarnock 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Rangers 1, Kilmarnock 0.

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

Nikola Katic (Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Eamonn Brophy (Kilmarnock).

Foul by Greg Stewart (Rangers).

Niko Hämäläinen (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Nikola Katic (Rangers).

Eamonn Brophy (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Substitution, Kilmarnock. Dom Thomas replaces Mohamed El Makrini.

Attempt saved. Nikola Katic (Rangers) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Dario Del Fabro.

Substitution

Substitution, Rangers. Steven Davis replaces Ryan Kent.

Foul by Gary Dicker (Kilmarnock).

James Tavernier (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

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

Foul by Glen Kamara (Rangers).

Attempt saved. Dario Del Fabro (Kilmarnock) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Foul by Ryan Jack (Rangers).

Eamonn Brophy (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Ryan Jack (Rangers).

Chris Burke (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Nikola Katic (Rangers) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Niko Hämäläinen.

Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Iain Wilson.

Foul by Ryan Kent (Rangers).

Chris Burke (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Eamonn Brophy (Kilmarnock).

Greg Stewart (Rangers) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Substitution

Substitution, Kilmarnock. Chris Burke replaces Ross Millen.

Booking

Alex Bruce (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card.

Goal!

Goal! Rangers 1, Kilmarnock 0. Alfredo Morelos (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Joe Aribo.

Nikola Katic (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Eamonn Brophy (Kilmarnock).

Substitution

Substitution, Rangers. Greg Stewart replaces Scott Arfield.

Substitution

Substitution, Kilmarnock. Eamonn Brophy replaces Liam Millar.

Attempt blocked. Joe Aribo (Rangers) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Ryan Kent (Rangers) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Mohamed El Makrini (Kilmarnock).

Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Laurentiu Branescu.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic19171154114352
2Rangers18152151104147
3Motherwell2012173225737
4Aberdeen2010552925435
5Hibernian206772934-525
6Kilmarnock206591723-623
7Livingston205782829-122
8Ross County195592141-2020
9St Johnstone184771533-1819
10St Mirren2044121629-1316
11Hamilton2036111833-1515
12Hearts2026121734-1712
View full Scottish Premiership table

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