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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Ross Co 3 – 2 Rangers

SportsRoss Co 3 - 2 Rangers


Ross County delivered a body blow to Rangers’ Scottish Premiership title hopes with a stunning 3-2 victory, their first-ever win over the Ibrox side.

With six fixtures remaining, Philippe Clement’s side remain four points behind leaders Celtic with a game in hand – against Dundee at Dens Park on Wednesday night, live on Sky Sports.

Josh Sims celebrates with Simon Murray after giving Ross County a 3-1 lead against Rangers
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Josh Sims celebrates with Simon Murray after giving Ross County a 3-1 lead against Rangers

When Staggies skipper Jack Baldwin scored an own goal after 15 minutes it already looked a long way back for the home side, but two goals in three minutes soon after the break from Simon Murray and George Harmon turned the game on its head before Josh Sims added a third after 69 minutes.

Gers skipper James Tavernier netted a penalty in the 89th minute following VAR intervention but the spirited home side held on for a momentous win which also boosts their bid to avoid relegation.

After 20 defeats and four draws in 24 games against Rangers, the Dingwall club had at last registered a long-awaited victory over the Govan club and its ramifications affect both ends of the table as second-bottom County moved to within a point of 10th-placed St Johnstone.

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Jack Baldwin put the ball into his own net to gift Rangers an early lead in their clash with Ross County

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Murray levels it up for Ross County

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George Harmon completes the turnaround to put Ross County 2-1 up against Rangers

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Sims puts Ross County two goals clear

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James Tavernier finishes from the penalty spot for Rangers after a VAR intervention

How Rangers slipped up

County had the first attempt at goal inside the opening minute when Michee Efete’s cross from the right found Harmon at the back post but under pressure from Abdallah Sima he scoped the ball over the bar.

Rangers struggled to get into their rhythm but they were gifted the lead following Tavernier’s corner from the right. Fabio Silva flicked it on at the near post and Baldwin knocked the ball over the line as Laidlaw failed to keep it out, although it took a while before the goal registered with the travelling fans at the other end of the ground.

Ross County's Jack Baldwin puts the ball into his own net to give Rangers a first-half lead
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Ross County’s Jack Baldwin puts the ball into his own net to give Rangers a first-half lead

The game opened up further and Ross Laidlaw saved a decent shot from Todd Cantwell before Gers keeper Jack Butland kept out a low drive from Sims with Laidlaw saving further efforts from Sima and striker Cyriel Dessers.

In the 38th minute, amid a spell of County pressure, Harmon lifted a shot high over the bar from close range as did Dessers at the other end before the break.

The game took an unexpected twist at the start of the second half when Murray levelled at the second attempt, driving in after Butland had saved well from his first shot.

George Harmon sinks to his knees in celebration after giving Ross County a 2-1 lead against Rangers
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George Harmon sinks to his knees in celebration after giving Ross County a 2-1 lead against Rangers

Rangers were still coming to terms with that setback when Murray found himself with space again before unleashing a drive which Butland parried and Harmon converted the rebound.

Sima used his hand to knock the ball into the County net with the ‘goal’ ruled out before the home side scored a third. Murray broke into the box and set up Sims who showed composure before beating Butland from close range.

Cantwell struck the bar with a terrific effort six minutes later and then VAR Andrew Dallas sent referee Matthew MacDermid to the pitchside monitor for a potential penalty after the ball hit County substitute Brandon Khela’s left hand. Tavernier converted but there was to be no comeback.

James Tavernier pulls a goal back for Rangers from the penalty spot
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James Tavernier pulls a goal back for Rangers from the penalty spot

Clement: I warned Rangers players at half-time

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Rangers boss Philippe Clement says his team’s performance was ‘not good enough’ and he expects more of his players.

Rangers manager Philippe Clement told Sky Sports:

“I’m very disappointed in our performance. The first half, we didn’t play well, not enough with the ball. Circumstances aren’t ideal to play really good football but we can do much better like we showed in the last half hour.

“The first hour we missed urgency to kill the game, to score goals, to not give anything away. You do that in the first half by scoring and having a lead.

“I warned them at half-time that I wanted to see more. Then we get two really early goals [against] and you need to chase the game. It’s a very disappointing afternoon for us. It was not good enough, simple. All great to Ross County for the big heart they showed today.

“This is not the way I’ve seen my team in the last couple of months. We’ve been the best defensive team in the league, conceding the least goals. Conceding three today in that manner is also disappointing.

“We threw away these points but it’s now about the next couple of weeks taking the points everywhere. It’s not only about character but also showing quality. We need to do what we’ve been doing well in a lot of months.

“I lost several things out of our normal game today and one of these was winning duels and being in our structure. Maybe it’s because we had a really, really strange preparation this week, it’s not an excuse, but everybody was more busy with things outside of football than football in the club. That’s also something to keep in mind and keep focused on the football and nothing else.”

Cowie: I challenged the team to stay unbeaten at home

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Ross County boss Don Cowie says his side showed their work ethic and resilience in the 3-2 victory over Rangers.

Ross County boss Don Cowie told Sky Sports:

“It was an excellent team performance. We deserved more out of the first half. We created a lot of chances, didn’t take them and the message at half-time was ‘remain the same, be positive’. We started the second half excellently. I’m absolutely delighted for the football club to get their first-ever victory over Rangers.

“Since I’ve come in we’ve been really good at home and it was about trying to build on that and keeping that momentum until the end of the season. I challenged the players at half-time. I said, ‘Can we still remain undefeated?’ And we’ve done that so credit to them.

“We stayed positive, kept making runs and creating chances. We made the right choices at the right time in the final third.”

What’s next?

Rangers face Dundee in their rearranged match at Dens Park on Wednesday night, live on Sky Sports. Kick-off 8pm.

Ross County need to wait for the Scottish Premiership post-split fixtures to be announced.

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