RANGERS will travel to Parkhead next Saturday with a chance to move level on points with their opponents Celtic at the top of the cinch Premiership table after coming from a goal down to beat Kilmarnock 4-1 at Ibrox this afternoon.

Philippe Clement’s men fell behind to a James Tavernier own goal in the first-half - and the defender then had a penalty saved by Will Dennis after Joe Wright had handled on his line and been red carded by referee David Dickinson.

However, Fabio Silva netted an equaliser in the eight minute of added-on time at the end of the first-half and substitutes Ben Davies and Tom Lawrence as well as John Souttar scored in the second to secure the victory and wrap up three vital points.

It was an incident-packed, occasionally bad-tempered, tension-filled encounter and Clement will be pleased with how his charges coped with the occasion and ground out a deserved and important triumph.  

Here are five talking points from the showdown.

Job done, on to the Old Firm

A draw or a defeat against Kilmarnock today would not have made it an arithmetical impossibility for Rangers to catch and overtake Celtic in the Scottish title race.

But anything less than a victory against the fourth-placed side in the top would certainly have been calamitous for the Ibrox club.   

It would, too, have meant the top flight leaders and defending champions could have sealed a third successive triumph in their “ain midden” next weekend.  

Tavernier and his team mates were, not for the first time in recent weeks, far from their brilliant best at moments. They certainly got a lucky break when Wright received his marching orders. Still, they were worthy winners when the full-time whistle blew.

If the Rangers’ players can show the same fight in the East End next weekend they will give their city rivals, who have won two and drawn one of the three Old Firm games to be played this term, a difficult afternoon.  

The return to the fray of centre half Davies, who made his first appearance since December and who marked the occasion by scoring his first ever goal for the Glasgow giants, and left back Ridvan Yilmaz, who replaced Borna Barisic, will help their cause no end. 

Fortune favours the brave

McInnes’s starting line-up raised eyebrows before kick-off. Deploying both Kyle Vassell and Marley Watkins up front in a 4-4-2 formation was bold. But going on the offensive worked well for Kilmarnock when they had 11 men on the park.

There was a touch of good fortune about the opener. Still, Liam Polwarth picked out Kennedy with a brilliant cross and his team mate did superbly to cut the ball back and force Tavernier to turn into his own net.

The sending off changed everything. The Rugby Park team struggled to get out of their own half when they were at a numerical disadvantage. It was no great surprise when the Rangers equaliser came.

Referee to the fore

Take a bow David Dickinson.

There have been very few instances of a referee ignoring the advice of a VAR colleague this season. But the match official today was unimpressed when he watched a replay of an alleged handball by Corrie Ndaba inside his own area in the second minute and refused to give a penalty.

Dickinson did not see the incident the same way that Steven Kirkland had over at Clydesdale House. He was unaffected by the appeals of the large and raucous home support and the match remained 0-0. It would have been harsh decision if the spot kick had been given. He made the correct call.

Dickinson angered the visitors and their followers later in the first-half when Wright had handled a Dujon Sterling shot on his own goal line. He was correct to give a penalty after having another look at his pitchside monitor.

But did the defender really deserve to see a red card? His offence was inadvertent rather than deliberate.  Being reduced to 10 men reduced Kilmarnock’s chances of protecting or building on their lead.    

Tav turmoil

This was another day to forget for Rangers captain Tavernier. The right back has been heavily criticised by Light Blues fans of late and he did little to work his way back into their good books in the opening 45 minutes. He turned a Kennedy cut back into his own net and then saw his penalty saved by Dennis.

The Englishman, who has been on target 24 times in the 2023/24 campaign is one of the nominees for the PFA Scotland Premiership Player of the Year award, has now missed three of his last seven attempts from 12 yards. Could it be time to let someone else to take over the spot kick responsibilities?

Silva shooshes snipers

The £35m Wolves loanee has got it in the neck from supporters as Rangers title push has faltered in recent weeks. Fans have felt that a player with Premier League pedigree should have been contributing more and have not been slow to make their unhappiness known.

Their barbs have clearly stung him. He went over to the Union bears after firing a John Lundstram chip beyond Dennis, turned his back to the ultras an pulled up his shirt to show his name. He then gestured to them to keep quiet.

The Portuguese Under-21 internationalist has been asked to play out of position wide on the left by Clement due to the lack of options in that area and it is hard not to have some sympathy for him.

Still, it was only his fifth goal since he arrived in January. He should do his talking on the park.