Giovanni van Bronckhorst slams Rangers "impossible" defending as John Souttar struggles in win over Livingston

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst gave a withering assessment of his team’s backline alertness in the concession of Joel Nouble’s fifth minute goal that gave way to his team running out 2-1 winners Livingston.

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst took issue with the reactive nature of his defence in going one down at Livingston in a poor first half showing they shook off  with two second quickfire second half strikes to earn an opening day league win. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst took issue with the reactive nature of his defence in going one down at Livingston in a poor first half showing they shook off with two second quickfire second half strikes to earn an opening day league win. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The strike forced them to “dig deep” to turn the league opener around with two goals inside two minutes with the equaliser netted by substitute Scott Arfield six minutes after his arrival as a substitute in the 73rd. A James Tavernier free-kick then put David Martindale’s men to the sword but, though satisfied with his team’s resilience, he was unhappy at their self-inflicted wounds in an unimpressive opening period. A 45 minutes wherein John Souttar struggled and was badly at fault as Nouble netted with a delightful dink after fastening on to a Nicky Devlin knockdown. The former Hearts man ended up replaced by James Sands in the 67th minute.

“We knew the danger Livingston had with the big striker up front who can make it very difficult,” said van Bronckhorst. “We said to the players that we had to be ready for the long balls and the duels.When they have a long ball, it cannot be that we don’t have any player making contact or trying to win the duel. The full-back won the ball for their goal without any pressure, which is impossible. The ball fell behind us so we weren’t good enough in anticipating it. It was a great goal for their side but it should be impossible for us to give that away. We changed it a little bit at half-time, getting three players behind Antonio [Colak] to get into the box. The subs today gave us the right energy at the right moments.

“In the end, I”m really happy with the points. The start wasn’t good from our side. We didn’t look sharp for the goal against us. It took us out of it and we didn’t play our normal game in the first half. We weren’t taking the right positions or zones at the right moments when we had the ball. In the second half we did much better and created a lot of chances to score. I’m happy with the two goals because it means we have three vital points in the first game of the season.”

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