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Two goals in a crazy four minute spell from James Tavernier and Tom Lawrence enabled Rangers to claim all three points in a frantic game at Rugby Park as Killie threatened to put a spoke in their title ambitions.

Danny Armstrong’s 11th minute penalty had Rangers frustrated – particularly with goal flashes coming furiously from Celtic Park as Brendan Rodgers’ side thumped Dundee – before Philippe Clement’s side turned the game on its head to maintain their two point gap at the top of the table.

It could be a significant evening in the race for the title with Rangers forced to dig out the win after long spells in which Kilmarnock, with energy and purpose, had made them scrap for the win. The full significance of the victory may be realised come the end of this season.

Indeed, the game pivoted on a second-half save from Jack Butland as he denied Matty Kennedy from close range as he clawed away an effort that looked certain to find the back of the net and would have doubled Killie’s advantage.

Instead, Rangers rallied with Tavernier’s influence difficult to understate as he restored parity at a time when Rangers were becoming increasingly ragged.

Rangers had looked to stamp their authority on the game with Ross McCausland at the heart of their first real menacing move in the opening minutes.

The youngster burst down on the right before slipping the ball into the bath of Silva whose effort from close range was deflected wide.

From the resultant corner Connor Goldson forced another save from the Killie stopper as he powered a header.

If the early impressions were that Rangers were in the mood, Kilmarnock soon put their gas at a peep. Liam Donnelly sent a header whistling past the post from a corner before Killie took the lead from the spot. John Lundstrum was penalised for the use of a hand from Armstrong’s cross with referee David Dickinson immediately pointing to the spot.

His call survived a VAR check before Armstrong sent his penalty straight down the middle of Butland’s goal.

Mohamed Diomande drew a save from Dennis when he tried his luck on the slippery surface from distance with the Killie keeper slithering along the deck to push the ball out of play.

Kilmarnock, though, were capable of problems went they went forward with Matty Kennedy and Armstrong in particular a headache for Rangers. Kennedy might have been the architect of a second goal for the hosts when he delivered a deep cross with pace but there were no Killie shirts capable of getting on the end of it.

The expectancy was that Rangers would up the ante after the break with Cyriel Dessers and Ridvan Yilmaz introduced at the expense of Silva and Borna Barisic. Kennedy’s miss just after the restart always had the sense of being pivotal.

Shortly after, Tavernier levelled with a trademark free-kick after Lawrence had been upended with the Rangers captain curling an effort into the top right-hand corner. Dennis got a fingertip to the ball but couldn’t prevent it going in. With their tails up, the second arrived with Lawrence linked with Oscar Cortes and Dessers. As the ball bobbled and deflected as Killie failed to clear, the ball fell kindly for Lawrence who stared a low effort across Dennis and into the back of the net.

Killie were aggrieved at a penalty call turned away when Donnelly seemed to be barged to the deck by Nicolas Raskin inside the penalty area but Dickinson was having none of it, much to the frustration of the hosts.


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