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Steven Gerrard hails Rangers’ resilience after going nine points clear

Kilmarnock v Rangers – Scottish Premiership – Rugby Park
(Image credit: Steve Welsh)

Steven Gerrard hailed a “big win” at Kilmarnock that answered some major questions but the Rangers boss insisted he would not look at the Scottish Premiership after his side went nine points clear.

James Tavernier’s 19th-minute penalty earned Gers a 1-0 victory and only their second Premiership win at Rugby Park in eight games.

Rangers had suffered three defeats at the Ayrshire venue in the previous two seasons and Gerrard was delighted to see his side hold out amid a spirited second-half show from the hosts.

“That was a big win, a win that we had to work hard for,” he said.

“There were a lot of question marks in the build-up to this game, talk about how we’d failed miserably here before and lost after getting ourselves in front.

“Well, we got ourselves in front today and I thought we showed really good resilience and strength and a different side to Rangers.

“I’m extremely proud of the players’ performance and I thought we fully deserved the three points. So we answered those questions today but we’ve got to keep on doing that.

“I’ve got players in that dressing room now who will roll their sleeves up, show resilience and strength, put their bodies on the line.

“Winning headers, stopping crosses – they are doing all the dirty side of the game that you need to do if you want to be successful.”

Celtic have two games in hand and there is no chance of Gerrard getting carried away as he searches for the first league title of his career.

“I won’t look at the league table,” he said. “I’ll analyse our performance and speak to the players after a bit of time off.

“This has been a tough week on the back of another big European game. Nobody mentions what we have to give on a Thursday night before we come to places like this.

“But it’s not the stage of the season to be looking at the league table.”

Rangers opened the scoring inside the first 20 minutes for the seventh time in eight league games as they imposed themselves on their opponents.

“We are Rangers, we always want to start in the best possible way,” Gerrard said.

“We want to be aggressive. You saw that, we wanted to take the game to Kilmarnock.

“The players are buying into it. We tweaked the way we played here slightly. We didn’t want to overplay, we wanted to make Killie’s defenders as uncomfortable as possible by going a little bit more direct.

“The players have gone out again and carried the plan out superbly well. The only thing I’d say is ‘can we get that second goal and really take the game away from the opponents?’.”

Kilmarnock manager Alex Dyer felt his side’s second-half display was worthy of a point. The closest they came was when Allan McGregor stopped substitute Eamonn Brophy’s drilled free-kick.

Dyer said: “First half, we weren’t at the races. Especially the first 30 minutes. We got a bit more into it after that and ironed a few things out at half time.

“I think we showed them a bit too much respect at the start. But if you go hung-ho against them you will get picked off.

“It’s important to try and find a balance and we did that in the second half. I enjoyed it more and the players did too, because they had more of the ball and passed it better.”