Rangers 4-0 win at Ibrox against Livingston was the most encouraging performance of the season so far. Three players scored their first goals for the club. Jack Butland made some important saves at 1-0 and Rabbi Matondo came off the bench and looked very sharp.
Let’s look at some takeaways from the game.
Rangers Are in Safe Hands With Jack Butland
The 30-year-old Englishmen has impressed me since his arrival. He communicates well with the defence and isn’t afraid to give them a piece of his mind if they make a mistake.
He hasn’t had much chance with the two competitive goals he’s conceded so far. Yesterday though, he made two crucial saves at 1-0 to stop the momentum shifting. These were saves that weren’t being made last season and kept Rangers in control.
It’s also brilliant to see a goalkeeper who’s so comfortable on the ball and kick it way beyond the half way line. He’s been very effective at rushing off of his line and coming to claim crosses.
Those are a far stretch from what was experienced last season. Allan McGregor is a true Rangers icon but in the last couple of years he would stick to his line and could barely get the ball to the half way line.
Butland has been a breath of fresh air so far and I hope that continues into Tuesdays crucial CL qualifier.
Balogun and Souttar Were Excellent Together
Between the two yesterday they had;
- 100% Tackles Won (3/3)
- 71% Ground Duels Won (5/7)
- 67% Aerial Duels Won (10/15)
- 8 Recoveries
I thought they were excellent as a partnership yesterday and wouldn’t be opposed to seeing it more often if Goldson needs rested. Souttar’s composure on the ball is a joy to watch especially when he drives towards the midfield.
Balogun was so impressive considering this was his first start this season. It was like he’d never been away. He never looked in danger and was good on the ball.
How do you think they fared as a duo?
Danilo, Dowell, Lammers and Sima Get Off The Mark
Four players getting their first goals for the club was something really encouraging to see. Lammers looked really positive during preseason and got a couple of goals but yesterday was his first competitive one.
He helped start the move which was engineered by a brilliant Todd Cantwell dummy and touch into the area. The ball was deflected back out into the stride of Lammers who put it away expertly, hopefully the first of many for the Dutchman.
Danilo’s was an excellent strikers goal and one that will delight fans. His movement was superb to peel off of the defender and it was an expert finish. The cross from Barisic was into a good area and all the Brazilian had to do was direct it to the goal, which he done gleefully. He was also unlucky not to add a second as he hit the post.
Fortunately, Abdallah Sima was the first to react and the Senegal forward tucked it away nicely. Dowell then added the 4th with an absolute rocket of a strike from the left side into the opposite top corner. The hard work was done by Rabbi Matondo who carried the ball up the pitch then slipped Dowell through.
Rabbi Matondo Impresses From The Bench
In his 20 minute cameo yesterday Matondo put up these numbers;
- 89% Pass Accuracy (8/9)
- 1 Assist
- 2 Chances Created
- 50% Successful Dribbles (1/2)
- 2 Recoveries
- 50% Ground Duels Won (2/4)
He looked a different player yesterday. He drove forward with confidence and knew what his next move was and looked like a player who was capable of contributing to a title challenge.
He’s still only 22-years-old and possesses incredible pace. If he could just work on his end product then he’s more than capable of being a Rangers player.
What did you think of his performance yesterday?
José Cifuentes’ First Start
The 24-year-old Ecuadorian international was very impressive in his first start for Rangers. These were his numbers from yesterday;
- 85% Pass Accuracy (53/62)
- 1 Big Chance Created
- 2 Shots (2/2 on target)
- 12 Passes into The Final Third
- 100% Tackles Won (1/1)
- 4 Recoveries
Rangers number 15 presses so well and is always determined to win the ball back. This was evident when he came on against Servette on Wednesday and further evidence was shown yesterday. He’s an excellent combative option in the midfield and works well with Cantwell.
He formed a good understanding with Tavernier on the right hand side. Defensively he looked solid and also showed what he was capable of going forward.
He had a great volley saved by the Livingston goalkeeper after he won the header to set himself up. Then from the resulting corner the ball bounced and he smashed a volley home. Unfortunately, after a VAR check, it was ruled out for handball.
The early signs are great and he looks like he can be a bargain signing for the club.
There were plenty of positives to take from yesterdays performance. Of course, there were still some negatives.
Dessers started brightly and his link up was good then he faded and looked leggy as the game wore on. The front three still haven’t properly clicked and Danilo looked much more effective through the middle.
Nico Raskin wasn’t at his best but his midfield partners impressed, particularly Todd Cantwell who, once again, was probably Rangers best player.
What did you think of the performance? Do you think there’s been a game on game improvement? Who different would you make the team come Tuesday?
You can listen to Michael Beale’s comments on the match here.
ICYMI you can read our look at potential target Jake Cooper here.