By Craig Rae
Rangers responded well to the loss in Europe midweek with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Kilmarnock at Ibrox.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst made 4 changes to the side that lost in Belgium with Ryan Jack, Rabbi Matondo, Glen Kamara and Borna Barisic making way for Tom Lawrence, Scott Wright, Steven Davis and a starting debut for Ridvan Yilmaz.
Rangers started the match as expected and dominated possession early on, Kilmarnock continued to frustrate us playing the low block as many predicted.
This led to Rangers creating very little in terms of chances in the first period with the side being restricted to 2 tame efforts from Scott Wright outside the box that never challenged the keeper.
The second half started with a bang as Antonio Colak finally got off the mark after Kilmarnock sloppily gave the ball away in midfield, this allowed Tom Lawrence to take advantage and slip it through to Colak and the Croatian coolly put the ball across the keeper and into the corner.
The goal clearly meant a lot to the striker as he rushed off to celebrate in front of the Copland and was greeted by his fellow countrymen Borna Barisic who was warming up at the same side.
He was substituted on later for Yilmaz who looked comfortable, he was a lively player who has lots of energy and he recovered well after a sloppy error in the opening exchanges to put in a comfortable performance, and we can only hope that he continues to get better and develop here at Ibrox.
A certain Alfredo Morelos was also brought on at this time who was making his first Rangers appearance in 5 months, the Colombian was treated to a standing ovation as he took to the field.
He immediately got involved in the action, linking up play like his old self and looked very comfortable on the ball considering the time he had been out.
The striker finally got his moment in the 88th minute as Rabbi Matondo played the ball across and after a slight touch from Arfield, the ball fell to Morelos who fired home into an empty net and was met with an emotional response from fans in the stadium who are desperate for him to stay and sign a new contract.
Up next is the return leg on Tuesday at Ibrox against USG in where at least 2 goals are required to stay in the tie, the manager will have a selection dilemma on his hands as he ponders whether to continue with Colak or start the recovering Morelos.
He will also need to weigh up the risk factor with Ryan Kent’s injury concerns, but it might be worth taking a chance on him considering the magnitude of the task ahead.
It will be a big night at Ibrox, and we know the fans will be on side for the whole 90 to cheer the team on in a crucial tie.
Rangers: McLaughlin, Tavernier, Sands, Goldson, Yilmaz (Barisic), Davis, Lundstram, Lawrence, Wright (Matondo), Tillman (Arfield), Colak (Morelos)
Kilmarnock: Walker, Taylor, Dorsett, Wright, Alebiosu, Power, Donnelly, Murray, McKenzie, Lafferty, Shaw
Man of the Match: Steven Davis