Rangers 1-0 Dundee United: Player ratings as champions earn hard-fought win

Sean Walsh
James Tavernier scored the winner
James Tavernier scored the winner / Ian MacNicol/GettyImages
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Rangers were made to work for their 1-0 win over a youthful Dundee United on Saturday, opening up a seven-point gap at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

The champions have extended their winning league run under Giovanni van Bronckhorst to six games.

Club captain James Tavernier nearly gifted Dundee United an early lead with his pass to Glen Kamara being cut out and nearly slotted home by Nicky Clark, but goalkeeper Allan McGregor was equal to his effort.

Dundee United made six changes to their starting lineup following a 1-0 loss at home to Livingston last week and brought several teenagers into the side, but continued to look the superior outfit in the opening stages. Nathan Patterson managed to retreat and prevent Chris Mochrie's shot from finding the bottom corner, clearing from just in front of the goal line.

Rangers' best sights of goal in the opening 15 minutes came back-to-back. Firstly, Tavernier's stinging shot from distance was held by Trevor Carson, before the hosts won the ball back high up the pitch and Alfredo Morelos dragged the shot at the end of the move wide.

The Gers were starting to get going after their early scares, with Ryan Kent getting more involved and going down in the area under a challenge from Mochrie, though referee Alan Muir was not impressed and told the Englishman to get to his feet.

Morelos came close to putting Rangers in front just before half time, with his header from Patterson's cross being tipped over by a full-stretch Carson.

Van Bronckhorst brought Scott Wright on for the second half as Rangers looked to turn possession into goals, with Morelos narrowly firing over almost immediately from the restart.

Substitute Wright then had the Gers' best chance of the game after a neat one-two with Morelos, and somehow was denied by Carson at close range.

Rangers were awarded a penalty on the 70-minute mark when Tavernier's cross struck the arm of Scott McMann, and the skipper stroked home the spot kick to finally break the deadlock.

The hosts had the ball in the net eight minutes later through Morelos, but the offside flag was up after he made his run from a Tavernier free kick just too quickly.

With victory in their sights, Rangers were able to play at a slower tempo, and broke Dundee United down beautifully with Ianis Hagi, Morelos and Wright all linking up beautifully, but Carson tipped away the latter's shot.

Dundee United nearly stole a point in stoppage time when Goldson failed to clear a bouncing cross, and Darren Watson's header hit the top of McGregor's bar, but Rangers held on to earn a valuable win.


Rangers player ratings

1. Goalkeeper & defenders

Allan McGregor (GK) - 6/10 - Little to do but dealt with what was thrown his way.

James Tavernier (RB) - 8/10 - Shifted into the heart of defence for the first ten minutes, but still popped up in dangerous areas further up the pitch. Similarly attacking back at right back.

Connor Goldson (CB) - 4/10 - The birthday boy played as if he'd had one too many on Friday night, lacking his usual imposition and strong decision making.

Calvin Bassey (CB) - 6/10 - Stepped up and brushed aside Dundee United's youngsters when needed. Shifted over to left back to cover the marauding Patterson.

Nathan Patterson (LB) - 6/10 - Played close to Kent on the wing at times and with Lundstram or Kamara in midfield at others, rarely being needed at the back.

2. Midfielders

Glen Kamara
It was an all-action performance from Kamara / Ian MacNicol/GettyImages

John Lundstram (CM) - 6/10 - Played deeper to allow Kamara to play higher up the pitch. Withdrawn at half time to allow Hagi to play centrally.

Glen Kamara (CM) - 8/10 - Given further licence to roam forward and play between the lines alongside Arfield in the first half before moving into a pivot with the Canadian after the break. Calm and composed in both roles he played but lacked the invention to really succeed in the former.

Scott Arfield (CM) - 4/10 - Failed to get on the ball enough to have an impact. Subbed for Aribo.

3. Forwards

Alfredo Morelos
Morelos was impressive / Ian MacNicol/GettyImages

Ianis Hagi (RW) - 6/10 - Struggled on the wing in the first 45 minutes and was moved into the number ten role for the second. Looked much more comfortable in his natural role.

Alfredo Morelos (CF) - 8/10 - Always involved, whether in front of goal or dropping deep to link play, but just couldn't find the killer touch himself.

Ryan Kent (LW) - 7/10 - Quite obviously full of talent but you would have liked to see him put it to more direct use. Nevertheless he gave Dundee United plenty of problems on the touchline.

4. Substitutes

Giovanni Van Bronckhorst
Van Bronckhorst deserves credit for getting his substitutions spot on / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

Scott Wright (RW, 46' for Lundstram) - 7/10 - Brought a much-needed injection of pace to Rangers' right flank.

Joe Aribo (CM, 64' for Arfield) - 7/10 - His introduction kicked Rangers into another gear.

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