Stevie Thompson and Gavin Rae scored the goals which means Rangers will take part in the third qualifying round of Europe’s elite tournament in August.

But the real highlight of the day was the Blue Order brass band playing “We’ll Meet Again” for the benefit of the Thistle fans, who will be watching First Division football next season.

The key for any striker is to get on the scoresheet and it was great for Stevie Thompson to claim his fourth goal in nine games since coming back into the picture after his long injury lay-off to give Rangers the lead.

The big striker had netted against Hibs, Celtic and Dundee and it was his perseverance which allowed him to break the deadlock of a largely flat match six minutes before half-time.

Chris Burke and the returning Mikel Arteta worked a freekick situation on the right hand side of the Thistle box and it was Thompson who flicked the ball on at the front post.

Alan Hutton headed the ball back across the face from the back post and Thompson slid in to force the ball over the line from close range.

There was little doubt that Rangers deserved their lead even if the performance was not the most inspiring.

Skipper for the day Michael Mols forced a great save out of Jamie Langfield in nine minutes after he had created the opening.

The Dutchman, who will leave in the summer, cleverly worked the ball wide for Michael Ball and then raced into the box looking for the return.

Ball did not disappoint with a beautifully flighted ball to the near post. Mols attacked it and produced a great header but Langfield pushed the ball over the bar for a corner.

Gavin Rae served notice that he was looking to find the net when he drilled a left foot shot only a foot wide in 27 minutes when Burke’s corner was poorly cleared to the edge of the box.

And the former Dundee midfielder effectively made sure of victory for Rangers just four minutes into the second when he completed a simple but deadly effective move.

Fernando Ricksen, who had been quiet for most of the game, cleverly spread the ball wide to young full back Hutton who had made the overlap.

Hutton spotted Rae making a good run into the box, played him in and the Scotland star steered a right foot shot into the net from 10 yards.

Thompson had an opportunity to claim his second goal in 59 minutes when he was found in space by Ricksen just outside the box but instead of shooting he tried to set up Mols. However, he over-hit his pass and the ball rolled harmlessly out of play.

Three minutes he was replaced by Ronald de Boer while Stephen Hughes came on for Arteta, who had started the game quite well but inevitably tired as it was his first appearance since March 7.

It was Ronald’s twin Frank who nearly produced a third goal in 70 minutes, Burke was clearly tripped by David Rowson 20 yards out on the right side and de Boer curled a free kick around the Thistle wall but also past the left hand post.

Ronald also had a decent left foot volley tipped over three minutes from time but, in essence it was a contest that had “end of season” written all over it.

There was a real bonus for youngster Alex Walker as he was given his Ibrox debut, playing the last eight minutes in place of Rae.

And spare a thought for Allan McGregor. The young keeper has waited all season for a game but he spent most of the afternoon trying to keep warm such was his inactivity.

RANGERS: 26-McGregor; 32-Hutton, 15-Khizanishvili, 5-F. De Boer, 18-Ball; 2-Ricksen, 23-Arteta (62, 27-Hughes), 11-Rae (82, 40-Walker); 30-Burke, 10-Mols, 19-Thompson (62, 14-R. de Boer).

Subs not used: 64-Robinson,16-Vanoli.

Bookings: Thompson (34)

PARTICK THISTLE: 1-Langfield; 29-Gibson, 5-Murray, , 32-Madaschi, 18-Fleming; 28-Anis (60, 24-Howie), 10-Rowson, 14-McBride (85, 8-Bonnes), 7-Mitchell; 16-Grady (76, 9-Britton), 27-Thomson.

Subs not used: 12-Arthur, 30-Chiarini.


Man of the match: Frank de Boer

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