PHILIPPE Clement last night lauded Rangers captain James Tavernier for leading by example in an  improbable victory over Hearts at Ibrox which reduced Celtic’s lead at the top of the cinch Premiership to five points.

Clement’s side looked to be heading for a costly defeat after conceding a fifth minute goal to Lawrence Shankland – but they were awarded a penalty by referee John Beaton late on for a Peter Haring pull on Connor Goldson after a VAR check.

Tavernier, who had struck the post with a spot kick in added on time at the end of the first half, stepped up and fired beyond goalkeeper Zander Clark to level the match.

Substitute Danilo netted what proved to be the winner for Rangers in the third minute of injury time when he got on the end of a cross from his skipper and headed home.  

READ MORERangers 2 Hearts 1: Danilo and Tavernier magic seal unlikely comeback

Clement was delighted with the never-say-die attitude of all of his charges, but he singled out his right back, who has come in for criticism from supporters following bad results at home and abroad this season, for special praise afterwards. 

“I am really happy because I spoke for the last two days with the team and told them that I am still in an observation period,” he said. “I know their football qualities, how they are as individuals and a group. I am curious if there comes a moment, and it always comes, where the scenario is not going our way how they would react.

The Herald:

“Maybe I should have talked about that before the game because it happened. Clearly they had the reaction that I wanted. I spoke about that with them. Our strength needs to be that whatever happens in football, we never give up and we keep on repeating what we are doing because they are doing already good things together.

“Of course we need to still make better a lot of details, but if we show the right mentality over and over again in every action and in the reaction afterwards then we are a really good team. That is what we showed together, not with eleven, but with the whole squad, also the players who came in to give this energy.

“Was it perfect? No. But for me it is a reference game in the way that they have seen if they never give up a lot of good things can happen. It is not a guarantee that you win every game because not even the best teams in the world manage to do that, but we are going to win much more games than we have done until now.”

READ MORERangers match winner Danilo praises mental coach for his comeback

Clement continued: “It is a big step forward for me and in that way Tav was an example today. Missing the penalty, getting the stick because of that. In that moment you can lose confidence, you can go down, you can stop taking responsibility. But he took the second penalty, he scored it and afterwards he gave the assist for the second goal.

“I want to see a lot of players with that mentality in my dressing room. I want to see everybody with that mentality in my dressing room because then we are going to make an amazing season. I have seen what I wanted to see today, a team that never stopped. Also when we made changes the players came in stepped into the game directly and with confidence to believe in themselves.

The Herald:

“It is a s*** scenario today.  The first attack you get against you you lose a goal. Afterwards you are dominating, you are getting balls on the touchline and not in, you miss a penalty, you have a lot of shots, I think 28 today. We were really dominant, I think 78 per cent ball possession.

“Everything is there, but it is still not there. I told them at half time that we keep on going because we are a team that can score two goals in five minutes. Okay, it was not five minutes! But that needs to be our strength for the rest of the season, that we keep our tempo high and in that way we will win a lot of games.”

READ MOREPhilippe Clement provides update on key Rangers coaching duo's future

Clement, who won three consecutive Belgian titles during his time as a manager in his homeland, stressed that he was unaware that Rangers were just five points behind defending champions Celtic in the Premiership. 

“Is it five points?” he said. “It is good that you told me. I will say the same things I said a few days ago and I will repeat it for the next couple of months, I want my team to be focused on thing and that is the next game. Nothing else. Nothing else. That is the only thing we control ourselves.

“We need to raise our level, we need to become stronger and better as individuals, as a team, and we will focus on that. I am not busy thinking how many points a team is in front of us or a team is behind us. We need to focus on ourselves to make sure, as much as possible, we take the three points all season long in all the competitions.

“That is the only thing that is important. Then, at the end of the road, you can start to calculate. It is much too early. I said it now already. I know the question will come a few times, but you will get the same answer because that is what I believe in. It is not a game or something. It is what I believe in. It is the only way for success.”

Clement was pleased for Danilo, who suffered a serious facial injury at the start of last month and wore and a face mask again, and predicted much more is to come from the Brazilian in the future.

“Of course it is an important goal,” he said. “He still has a lot of improvement that he can make in the game, but it is a very important goal. He is looking bright in the training. He had his injury, he was a long time out. He was not in top physical shape so we need to go step by step building him. Same thing with Todd (Cantwell).”

Rangers midfielder Nicolas Raskin was stretchered off in the second half after appearing to injure his ankle. “I didn’t see him yet,” said Clement. “We need to make a proper assessment about that this evening or tomorrow with the doctors in hospital. I hope that it is not too bad because he has been important in the last couple of weeks and is a player with a lot of potential.”