JAMES TAVERNIER contributed to silencing many of Rangers’ critics tonight – but was also pleased to quieten the jibes of his teammates.
With normal spot-kick taker Alfredo Morelos unfit to start, Tavernier went top of the list – much to the surprise and amusement of his fellow Gers stars.
But, the Yorkshireman was thrilled to stick the ball in the back of the net to give the home side the early impetus in the match.
He explained: “The lads were giving me some stick before the game, and the lads were giving me some stick before the games and couldn’t believe I was on penalties!
“We had the meeting, and I’m usually second on the list and Alfredo first, so with him out of the game today I was first – and you couldn’t have written it today six minutes into the game!
“I was happy I put it away and lifted the pressure a bit. To get it early in the game, the nerves maybe weren’t there as much, as I knew in my head where I was going to put the ball before the game.”
Tavernier then grabbed the third, clinching goal in the game in the second half – but that only came after some soul searching at the interval after what he saw as some complacency coming into his game.
He continued: “I’ve always said I could have been a striker! It was two good goals so I’m happy, but I’m more pleased with the performance of the boys, and keeping a clean sheet.”
“I was mad at myself coming in at half time having let them in twice. It was a lack of concentration, which I had to address for the second half.
“I thought I did that, we kept the ball out the box and I thought we played well in their half, breaking it down when we needed to.”
Naturally, the Ibrox dressing room was in buoyant mood following the victory, with the players thrilled to react to a disappointing couple of weeks.
Tavernier said: “It’s really happy. Coming from two defeats, which we didn’t want, I’m proud of all the boys, we worked hard this week, recovered well and kept a clean sheet, and that was the main thing coming into this game.
“We always have a point to prove in every game – we don’t want to lose any games, and we know when we are at home, there will be pressure on us.
“I thought we handled it really well, got that early goal and performed really well. We controlled the middle, which we wanted to. Sometimes we have had games where we have been overloaded in the middle, but I thought we concentrated it well in the middle, and Kenny and Josh led the line well, with midfielders running and splitting their lines.
“I thought today’s performance, and formation and the way we played it was brilliant.”
And, on the boost of confidence the win has given Gers ahead of Sunday’s trip to Pittodrie, Tavernier added: “It’s crucial. We obviously take the confidence from this game, but we can’t get too over-confident. They will be firing on all cylinders to get a reaction, and their manager will want that from them.
“They have obviously got a point to prove, so we have to go up there with the same concentration, the same level of performance and put it in up there.”