RANGERS have cut the gap to Celtic to six points at the top of the Premiership after a comfortable victory over Dundee United at Ibrox.

Malik Tillman netted in either half to secure a straightforward win on the day that Allan McGregor made his 500th appearance for the club.

Beale’s side now turn their attentions to the Old Firm clash at Parkhead next week as they attempt to give themselves a chance of catching Celtic in the final stages of the title race.


If you had said to Beale on his first day in office that he would embark on such a lengthy unbeaten run – one that includes wins at Pittodrie, Tynecastle and Easter Road – and collect as many points in the Premiership he would surely have taken it without hesitation. Remarkably, it has not been enough to haul Rangers back into title contention.

The gap now stands at six points but it seems more than likely that it will return to nine as Celtic prepare for their trip to Ross County. Rangers have held up their end of the bargain but their efforts have not been rewarded as their Old Firm rivals have shown the mark of champions with their own incredible run of form.

Something has to give at Parkhead next weekend. If Rangers can make it third time lucky in the derby under Beale then it may, just may, give them the faintest of hopes in the title race.

Beale needs a performance and a result against Celtic to prove that the progress and the positives of his reign can be backed up when it really matters. A win would be welcomed, of course, but it would surely be swapped for one in the Scottish Cup later this month.

The remaining Premiership fixtures outside the derbies matter little for a Rangers side that have proven they can beat the rest week after week. Now they must show they can beat the best.


The goal from Tillman was the highlight of a largely lacklustre and at times decidedly dreadful first 45 minutes of action at Ibrox. The intervention of the American was timely and appreciated by a crowd that would have had a very different reaction at the whistle if Rangers were not ahead on their return up the tunnel.

James Tavernier was denied by Mark Birighitti from a tight angle after seven minutes. Just before the interval, Ryan Kent – who fired low and wide of target earlier on – came agonisingly close with a fine strike from distance that rattled the bar and bounced clear.

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But it was the goal from Tillman that was the moment to savour as Beale’s side struggled to inject any real rhythm and tempo into an encounter that wasn’t an easy watch. Once again, Tillman stood up to be counted when Beale needed him.

The Ibrox boss confirmed pre-match that Rangers remain in discussions with Bayern Munich over Tillman’s future beyond the end of the campaign and this was another reminder of just what he brings to the team and why he can be such an integral part of it going forward.

Todd Cantwell deserves credit for the assist as he held off his marker and flicked a Connor Goldson pass round the United defence and into the path of Tillman. The 20-year-old did the rest with aplomb and his finish was emphatic as he kept his shot down and beat Birighitti on the angle.


The first challenge in matches like this for Rangers is to break the deadlock and all but ensure that the game will not be lost. The second is to go on and win the game as comfortably as possible.

Ibrox can be a notoriously difficult place to play when games are not put to bed and that is why the goal that doubled Tillman’s tally came at just the right time for Beale’s side. As soon as the ball hit the net, this one was done and dusted.

It was another accomplished finish from the playmaker as he shifted the ball to create space for himself and was never flustered. It was cool, calm and clinical once again.

Rangers had started the second period brightly and it was now a case of how many they would win by. Kent scooped an effort over from a promising position, Tavernier was denied by a block on the line and Borna Barisic headed narrowly wide as Rangers pressed with more urgency but somehow failed to add to their advantage.

Beale was able to turn his attentions to Celtic as Tavernier and Alfredo Morelos were replaced. Later in the half, Ryan Jack, Cantwell and Tillman were also given an early finish to minimise the risks ahead of the derby.


The way in which McGregor goes about his business day in day out, week in week out, has been a driving factor behind his remarkable consistency and longevity. On this landmark afternoon, his focus was on the football rather than his record or his future.

He completed his warm-up and made his way off the park as normal. When he got to the touchline, he was greeted by John Greig and took the acclaim of the Ibrox crowd as the Greatest Ever Ranger presented him with a gift to mark his 500th appearance.

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A quick clap to show his appreciation to the crowd was followed by a fulsome applause in return and a brief video on the giant screens as Simply The Best played over the tannoy. It was a moment for McGregor to savour before he got down to business once again.

The first 45 minutes passed off almost without incident for the keeper. A strike from Craig Sibbald that whistled over the crossbar was the only time that McGregor had to be alert and he responded in typical fashion with a tirade towards those who had allowed the United man the chance to shoot.

His second half was just as uneventful and this was one of the most straightforward clean sheets of his career. The McGregor heroics were not needed this time as he was given the Man of the Match award to mark the occasion.


Jim Goodwin would have had damage limitation on his mind ahead of the trip to Ibrox. This was probably mission accomplished for the Tannadice boss.

United are not the first team to come here and set up in this manner. Indeed, they will not be the last and there will be many more managers who adopt the Goodwin approach.

It is perfectly understandable, and not just because of the position that United find themselves in the Premiership. The gulf between the Old Firm and the rest of the league speaks volumes this season and teams that visit Ibrox or Parkhead know they run the risk of a heavy defeat if they are too open and adventurous in their approach.

United would have taken a scrappy goalless draw all day long but Rangers got the rewards for their perseverance and patience as their quality finally paid off. The visitors couldn’t argue about the result.

Fixtures like this will not determine United’s fate in the top flight. It is one that can now be written off as Goodwin looks ahead to the challenges ahead in the coming weeks.