Rangers swamp Kilmarnock
On a day of torrential rain Rangers washed away the opposition with a comfortable 3-0 win over Kilmarnock at Ibrox to return to the top of the SPL, all the goals coming in the first-half.
The home side made two changes from the visit of St. Mirren a fortnight ago with Kevin Thomson and Kenny Miller replacing John Fleck and Nacho Novo.
Killie it was who created the first opening in three minutes when Garry Hay's hanging cross found the head of Kevin Kyle who forced Allan McGregor into a good save.
The opening goal arrived three minutes later at the other end when Kris Boyd - playing against his old club - slotted home Thomson's slide-rule pass.
Two minutes later Boyd had the ball in the net again - this time from a Steve Davis through-ball - only for a linesman's flag to signal offside.
Rangers' movement and pace was creating havoc in the visitors' defence - but Steven Naismith (also featuring against his former team-mates) should have done better in sixteen minutes when he played a one-two with Miller only for his first touch to let him down.
Five minutes later Naisy did better when his volley on the turn from a Boyd knock-down was blocked by former Ibrox goalkeeper Mark Brown.
The second goal was merely delayed - Miller coolly netting in 24 minutes from a Lee McCulloch flick.
Kilmarnock were by no means out of it - Kyle's 22-yard drive being clawed away by McGregor five minutes later.
The goals were pouring in at the other end however - Steven Whittaker made it 3-0 in 34 minutes at the second attempt after Miller's pace down the right had carved open the visitors' defence.
Rangers were rampant as the interval approached - with Miller twice coming close to adding a fourth goal, firstly in 42 minutes when his turn and shot from a Whittaker pass was turned wide by Brown, then sixty seconds later his volley from a Boyd header flashed over.
The second-half would prove to be a low-key affair, with Rangers perhaps understandably having one eye on Stuttgart's visit on Tuesday.
Boyd turned creator in 56 minutes when his cross-field pass found Naismith wide on the left whose cutback to Sasa Papac saw the full-back curl his effort just wide.
Six minutes later in a lightning break out of defence Boyd fed Thomson who in turn released Miller whose shot was held by Brown.
Novo replaced Naismith in 65 minutes and Lafferty substituted for Boyd four minutes later.
The Ulster centre almost made an instant impact - his 72nd minute header from a Davis cross being scooped off the line.
Five minutes later Papac's header from a Novo cross was pushed away by Brown.
An upright denied Thomson in 84 minutes when his twenty-yard left-foot shot from a Lafferty pass came back off the post.
Deep into injury time McGregor denied Killie a consolation goal when he turned wide Hay's twenty-yard free-kick.
Afterwards Manager Walter Smith summarised:
"I felt we started the game well, although Kilmarnock had a good opportunity early on. We scored three goals and created quite a number of other good chances. After an International break you're always happy to come away with a win and I'm delighted we managed to do that."
RANGERS McGregor; Whittaker, Weir, Wilson, Papac; Davis, Thomson, McCulloch, Naismith (Novo 65); Boyd (Lafferty 69), Miller (Fleck 72)
UNUSED SUBS Alexander, Smith, Ness, Little
KILMARNOCK Brown; Fowler, Wright, O'Leary, Hay; Hamill, Bryson, Pascali (Ownes 74), Skelton (Taouil 59); Kyle (Russell 65), Fernandez
UNUSED SUBS Bell, Old, Flannigan, Kelly
REFEREE Alan Muir