How Alfredo Morelos' return perfect for Rangers emergency, Kilmarnock frustrate, man of the match confusion
It was the reception Alfredo Morelos received before the match and during it.
El Bufalo was back, complete with Paul Gascoigne-esque hair do. The noise which greeted his inclusion in the team was loud. His second-half arrival rivalled the opening goal of the game by Antonio Colak, his first appearance since March following injury.
Rangers struggled against an equally obdurate and generous Kilmarnock side who in reality offered little in attack, the ball not sticking, no pace in behind to trouble the back line. The confusion that was brought about by Connor Goldson’s announcement as man of the match said a lot. About both sides.
Two wins from two in the league but it was another concerning all-round performance ahead of a massive night at Ibrox on Tuesday when Royale Union Saint-Gilloise come to town for the Champions League third round qualifier.
Rangers need more. Much more. Building from the back, moving the opposition, creating better opportunities. The supporters know that. Van Bronckhorst will certainly know that. Having more than 70 per cent of possession is pointless if it is sterile.
Matondo and Morelos
That’s why Morelos’ return was so important.
Colak got off the mark, taking advantage of Killie’s generosity in possession, exchanging passes with Tom Lawrence before firing into the far corner. But Morelos has the x-factor which the Croatian does not possess, at least not yet.
Within seconds of coming on, he was moving behind Ash Taylor, then dropping deep, giving the centre-back a decision to make. Colak, a tidy player, is a more static option.
Then there was Rabbi Matondo. He gave Rangers an injection of pace they were missing. It was no surprise he was key in setting up Morelos for the second goal, the Colombian bundling in at the back-post. That could be huge. Not for the league but for him and for Tuesday.
Credit to Kilmarnock. They made it difficult for the home side, until they didn't and gave the ball away. Derek McInnes spent much of the afternoon spinning around on his heels in frustration, or planting his hands on his head. But they will be tough opposition throughout the season.
They contributed to Rangers’ slow play, Sam Walker being warned about time-wasting early on.
Tom Lawrence plonked a shot onto the top of the bar with an excellent effort, while anything good came through the feet, the movement, the awareness of Malik Tillman. He may not be the quickest across the turf but he certainly is between the ears.
There was a backheel to combine with Steven Davis, one of the few moments of ingenuity. A chance created for Antonio Colak and the problem solving ability as Rangers struggled to build from deep.
As Rory McKenzie lifted a shot over the bar early in the second half for the visitors and one fan slammed the barrier in front of him as Rangers moved the ball slowly, it was only a matter of time before Van Bronckhorst was ringing the Bufalo bell.
It wasn't needed in case of emergency today. But it will be on Tuesday.
Rangers (4-2-3-1): McLaughlin; Tavernier, Goldson, Sands, Yilmaz (Barisic 63’); Lundstram, Davies; Wright (Matondo 63’), Tillman (Arfield 75’), Lawrence; Colak (Morelos 63’).
Kilmarnock (3-5-2): Walker; Wright, Taylor, Dorsett; Alebiosu, Donnelly (Polwarth 60’), Power (McInroy 84’), McKenzie (Cameron 84’), Murray; Lafferty (Armstrong 74’), Shaw.
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