Rangers reaction: Serious POTY contender emerges, key men able to ease off ahead of Belgrade trip, James Sands stakes claim
Ahead of the intensity and intimidating atmosphere they are set to face at the Rajko Mitic Stadium in Belgrade on Thursday night, Rangers could not have found themselves in more sharply contrasting surroundings than they did at Dens Park on Sunday afternoon.
Rangers on easy street
The Scottish champions were barely extended as they eased to a 3-0 Scottish Cup quarter-final victory with goals from Connor Goldson, James Tavernier and Fashion Sakala.
It effectively became a home tie for Rangers whose travelling support provided all the noise on a day which underlined the current indifference of the Dundee fans towards their flatlining club.
As Giovanni van Bronckhorst manages his squad through a schedule which sees him targeting silverware in both the Scottish Premiership and Scottish Cup alongside further progress in an impressive Europa League campaign, he struck the right balance as Dundee were swatted aside.
There were rare starts for James Sands and Aaron Ramsey, both of whom could be satisfied with their most effective contributions since joining the club in the January transfer window.
American international Sands was composed and tidy as he dovetailed well in a holding midfield role alongside Ryan Jack, while Welsh star Ramsey displayed touches of premium quality during his 79 minutes on the pitch.
Rangers captain Tavernier maintained his recent sequence of confidently dispatched penalty kicks. He has now netted seven times from the spot this season and has taken his overall goals tally to 12.
Tavernier has been a model of consistency and is emerging as a serious contender for Player of the Year honours when the major individual awards are dished out in May.
If he can maintain his outstanding current form, he will be key to Rangers’ hopes of ending the season with collective glory.
Ready for Red Star
Van Bronckhorst was able to rest key men such as Allan McGregor and Leon Balogun on Saturday, while Glen Kamara and Alfredo Morelos were only required for 45 minutes.
With the second leg of the Europa League last 16 tie against Red Star Belgrade looming large, it was a welcome set of circumstances for the Rangers manager.
The only concern was when Ryan Kent limped off in the second half but van Bronckhorst does not believe the winger’s knock should rule him out of the trip to Serbia.
Dundee (4-4-1-1): Sharp 7, Kerr 6, Ashcroft 6 (Daley-Campbell 44 5), Sweeney 6, Marshall 5 (McDaid 77); McMullan 5 (Byrne 61 5), Anderson 6, McGhee 6, McGinn 5 (McCowan 61 5); McGowan 5; Mullen 6. Subs not used: Lawlor, Fontaine, Chapman, Mulligan, Elliott, Robertson, Rossi.
Rangers (4-2-3-1): McLaughlin 6, Tavernier 9, Goldson 8, Helander 7, Bassey 6; Jack 7 (Lowry 86), Sands 7; Ramsey 7 (McCann 79), Kamara 6 (Sakala 46 6), Kent 6 (Diallo 67 5); Morelos 6 (Roofe 46 6). Subs not used: McGregor, Zukowski, Balogun, Barisic, King, Wright.
Referee: Steven McLean
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