Philippe Clement told his Rangers players to enjoy their upcoming break after bouncing back from their Old Firm defeat to beat Kilmarnock 3-1 at Ibrox
The Belgian had lost his first game as Gers boss since taking over in October in the narrow 2-1 loss at Celtic Park on Saturday but late first-half goals against Killie from wide-men Ross McCausland and Abdallah Sima had the Light Blues in control at the break.
The visitors refused to buckle and Danny Armstrong reduced the deficit in the 58th minute with a penalty awarded after VAR intervention.
It was the first penalty Rangers had conceded in 75 cinch Premiership matches since Lewis Ferguson netted for Aberdeen in a 1-1 draw in January 2022.
However, Todd Cantwell soon restored the two-goal cushion to keep the pressure on leaders Celtic going in to the winter break, where they will have a few days off before going to Spain for a training camp next week.
Clement, looking back to qualifying for the Europa League last 16 with a win away to Real Betis before winning the Viaplay Cup final against Aberdeen days later, said: “I said it also in the opposite way after the win in Betis. Three days later we then had to be there again and performing under all the pressure to win a trophy after so many years.
“They showed resilience, concentration, ambition and today they showed that also.
“This is one of the dangerous games where you’d be disappointed not to win. It’s a few hours away from going on a break.
“It’s the festive time where all the family are around you having a good time with drinks, food and a good life.
“The players had to recover really fast and then perform. But they are doing that.
“They are on the right road. They understand my story, which is also important. This is that life is much better when you are ambitious every day.
“If you go in satisfied about what you did, then you go down.
“I told them in the dressing room they can switch off for a few days. Of course they need to do their programme.
“They cannot let their body do nothing for five or six days and then have a hard training camp, because then you’re at risk of injuries.
“But outside of that they really need to switch off and enjoy their time with their families.”
Killie boss Derek McInnes watched midfielder Liam Donnelly go off early with a hamstring problem but he is focused on bringing in a striker in the transfer window.
He said: “We are a wee bit short in the midfield at the minute.
“We have three significant injuries so we will see how those play out over the next couple of weeks and we are only looking to try to do one bit of business, we are trying to bring in a forward player, other than that I am happy with the squad.
“I want us to get back on the horse really quickly when we come back and set about the task. I am really encouraged with what I am getting from these lads.
“The message at half-time was can we win the second half, get the next goal, don’t go under, make sure we stick together and stick to what we want to do.
“The spirit in the team was terrific, everything I expected from them.
“We have been on a good run of late and clearly there are improvements in the side. We get a goal back and we just needed to keep it at 2-1 for longer.”