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Rangers 4 – 1 Ross Co

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Europa League finalists Rangers signed off at Ibrox for the season with a routine 4-1 win over Ross County.

On a night when Old Firm rivals Celtic officially wrestled the cinch Premiership title back with a 1-1 draw against Dundee United at Tannadice, the Light Blues kept things ticking along towards Seville.

Attacker Scott Wright opened the scoring in the 13th minute before skipper James Tavernier won and converted a penalty in the 28th minute.

Although Staggies substitute Jordan White reduced the deficit in the 72nd minute with a terrific finish, Rangers substitutes Fashion Sakala and Amad Diallo struck late on.

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Scott Wright opened the scoring for Rangers

While there remains one final league match versus Scottish Cup final opponents Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday, all the Rangers focus is on the Europa League final against Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt next Wednesday night before they face the Jambos in the Hampden Park showpiece three days later.

Rangers had long since resigned themselves to losing their title but questions about that are for another day. For the next seven days, it is all about the prospect of European glory.

After making a host of changes for the home win against Dundee United on Sunday, Rangers boss Giovanni Van Bronckhorst returned to a very strong line-up.

Allan McGregor, Calvin Bassey, Glen Kamara, John Lundstram, Joe Aribo – playing as a false nine again – and Ryan Kent returned while 18-year-old midfielder Alex Lowry made his second start.

Rangers' Giovanni van Bronckhorst beams with pride
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Rangers’ Giovanni van Bronckhorst congratulated Celtic on their title win after the game

County boss Malky Mackay made four changes, one being top-scorer Regan Charles-Cook, as Dominic Samuel, Joseph Hungbo, Jack Burroughs and Keith Watson came into the visiting side who spent most of the game on the back foot.

In the eighth minute County keeper Ross Laidlaw brilliantly blocked a close-range drive from Lundstram after he had been set up by Aribo. However, the opening goal almost inevitably arrived and it was fairly simple.

Left-back Borna Barisic’s corner from the left was headed on by centre-back Connor Goldson for Wright to volley in from six yards.

Rangers continued to play in County’s half of the pitch, probing from left and right for goal number two, which came from the penalty spot. Tavernier played a one-two with Lowry inside the box and was tripped by defender Alex Iacovitti.

Rangers' James Tavernier celebrates after scoring against Braga
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Rangers’ James Tavernier doubled the lead from the penalty spot

The prolific full-back picked himself up and steered the penalty past Laidlaw to score in his third consecutive game, taking his tally for the season to a remarkable 18.

The traffic remained one way and five minutes from the break a terrific block by Dingwall defender Jake Vokins denied Aribo’s shot from Wright’s cut-back testing Laidlaw.

Leon Balogun and Diallo replaced Barisic and Aribo for the start of the second half and in the 52nd minute Balogun’s header from Tavernier’s deep free-kick rebounded off the post with the Highlanders escaping punishment.

Fashion Sakala was back on the scoresheet for Rangers
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Fashion Sakala was back on the scoresheet for Rangers

Goldson headed a Tavernier corner over the bar 10 minutes later but by then a lot of Rangers’ impetus had dissipated and they were caught out when White, on for Ross Callachan on the hour mark, curled a shot from 20 yards past McGregor to inject some anxiety into the stands.

But Sakala, on for Kent after 61 minutes, dived to head in a Tavernier corner to make it 3-1 before Bassey set up Diallo for a tap-in with seconds remaining.

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Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst:

“It was a good performance. We started the game really well. We should have scored more than two goals. Second half we made changes and let them back in the game. In the last 15 minutes we scored two extra goals. I was happy to rotate players once again and keep the momentum going.

“I see a lot of talent in Alex Lowry. He just signed a new contract. He is once of the players who are here to play and be important in the future. He’s making good steps and can play in midfield and the wide areas. I’m really pleased for his performance and I’m looking forward to working with him in the future.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst celebrates his side taking the lead in extra time
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Van Bronckhorst celebrates his side taking the lead

“I think Ryan [Jack] is doing better and I’m hoping to have him back on the training pitch on the weekend. Kemar [Roofe] is not close so it will be a close call for next week. My medical staff is doing everything. It’s a European cup final, when we can have Kemar and Ryan on the bench then we have to take the chance. We have 23 options on the bench.

“I think the biggest difference [in the title race] is they [Celtic] have more points. We had a good spell in the league and their winning streak has been long. That’s why they took over the first place and in the end, if you have so many points you deserve to be champions. We have to congratulate them and we make ourselves ready for the big week that comes ahead. We have to be ready and bounce back as we start from scratch. We have to fight to get another title.”



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