Rangers-Dundee debrief: Serious issue emerges, Cyriel Dessers' pep talk, dim view of news agenda

Ibrox club put pressure on Celtic but Cifuentes’ red card could cause big headache

Rangers might have temporarily drawn closer to Celtic in the league, but their League Cup prospects could have taken a hit in the process. The Ibrox side are likely to be a further midfielder down after Jose Cifuentes was sent off late in the first half of this 3-1 win over Dundee.

Although it was an otherwise largely straightforward victory for the hosts, the Cifuentes news is problematic ahead of next Sunday’s Viaplay Cup final against Aberdeen. A disobliging song about the SFA rang out around Ibrox after Kevin Clancy upgraded an initial booking after being instructed by VAR to review Cifuentes' mistimed, studs-up challenge on Amadou Bakayoko, who had given Dundee a fifth minute lead. He is now now set to be suspended from the showpiece occasion.

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Ibrox’s dim view of the SFA seemed notable given the news agenda at the end of the week. The on-going debate about Rangers’ long record of not conceding a penalty in the league was stirred up by a column by broadcaster Richard Gordon in an Aberdeen newspaper.

Philippe Clement speaks to Cyriel Dessers during Rangers' win over Dundee.Philippe Clement speaks to Cyriel Dessers during Rangers' win over Dundee.
Philippe Clement speaks to Cyriel Dessers during Rangers' win over Dundee.

As well as this record having now been extended, Rangers were helped on their way to victory against Dundee by the award of a controversial penalty, given following a VAR review after defender Aaron Donnelly’s shirt tug on Abdallah Sima. More surprising was the red card issued to Cifuentes six minutes into time added on at the end of the opening half.

The midfielder may or may not be a loss at Hampden against Aberdeen next Sunday but the hosts were never really in any serious danger here. Dundee might have had plenty of the ball in the second half but they did little with it. It was almost as if they had not banked on playing against ten men at Ibrox.

Although this was indeed an unexpected development, it’s the third game in a row where Dundee have been up against ten men for significant periods, with only one point accrued. They certainly failed to inflict the sort of damage Tony Docherty hoped they would in the 45 plus minutes where they enjoyed this numerical advantage.

The Dundee manager sought to stretch the depleted hosts by bringing on wide men Scott Tiffoney and Charlie Reilly, who was playing in the fourth tier this time last year with Albion Rovers. Whether this was the Dens Park side's chance to take something from Ibrox after 16 consecutive defeats is debatable. They were, after all, already trailing by two goals, despite Bakayoko early finish after the ball landed at his feet following a corner.

Rangers' Jose Cifuentes was sent off for this tackle.Rangers' Jose Cifuentes was sent off for this tackle.
Rangers' Jose Cifuentes was sent off for this tackle.

Rangers staged a swift response to going behind, with goals from Cyriel Dessers, James Tavernier, from the spot, and Sima. All this was within the first 35 minutes. The hosts avoided becoming too unsettled by only their second domestic red card of the campaign. Indeed, they came closest to scoring in the second half. Dundee skipper Joe Shaughnessy had to clear off his own goalline from fellow centre half Leon Balogun while substitute Dujon Sterling bashed Trevor Carson’s far post in time added on with a fierce effort from the edge of the box. Dessers also wasted a couple of good opportunities to score and was quickly hooked after the second of these chances.

Manager Philippe Clement waylaid the striker at the touchline to give him what appeared to be a pep talk. While Dessers is still failing to convince Rangers supporters he will be thanking his stars for Dundee, against whom he has scored a third of his season tally of six goals.

He got Rangers back on level terms with an explosive effort into the top corner past Carson. Thereafter, certainly until the red card, Rangers threatened to blow Dundee away. A second goal quickly followed from the penalty spot after a VAR review. Tavernier did his usual immaculate job from the spot, sweeping to the ‘keeper’s right-hand corner. A third arrived ten minutes before half time as the prolific Sima headed powerfully into the net from Tavernier’s corner.

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At this juncture Rangers looked as if they would exceed the five goals they scored against Dundee at Dens Park in October, in Clement’s first domestic away match as manager. They appeared to have gone a goal nearer that tally after Cantwell fired past Carson on the stroke of half-time. “4-1” flashed up on the scoreboard. But Clancy had already blown for an earlier foul much to Clement’s consternation.

The manager later collected a yellow card as his frustration boiled over. His fury was out of character and he later reported that he had already apologised to Clancy. The referee, meanwhile, was commended by Docherty, who claimed he had made only one mistake. It was, Docherty lamented, a game-changing one, with the penalty he awarded to Rangers following the Donnelly-Sima incident coming with the game poised at 1-1. The Dundee manager complained that both players were tugging each other.