The mission was to win the game to try to ease the pain of last Tuesday’s shocking Euro exit in Lithuania.

And it was the Lithuanian who did it for them, although Andrius Velicka will scarcely score an easier goal.

All he had to do was divert the ball into the net when Lafferty cut the ball back from the right but it was so vital for Walter Smith and his players.

The goal came 14 minutes after skipper for the day Allan McGregor had saved Michael Higdon’s penalty so there was much grit involved in this narrow but crucial victory.

McGregor was the hero, clearly, but Madjid Bougherra made a decent debut at centre back and Lafferty showed a lot of good things.

But the bottom line was winning the match and Rangers did it.

Rangers started well in the game with Lafferty, Andrius Velicka and Boyd looking dangerous in the early moments.

Indeed Lafferty almost created a shooting chance inside the first minute when he burst in from the left side, but just carried the ball too far and shot wide.

However, Rangers’ midfield deficiencies became apparent as the first half wore on and it was the veteran former Rangers player Russell Latapy who looked the most creative player.

Falkirk seemed more comfortable in possession for long spells and Michael Higdon might have scored in 17 minutes when he was played in by Kevin McBride but sliced his shot wide.

It took until the end of the half before Rangers became to reassert themselves.

Kevin Thomson forced a decent save out of Robert Olejnik in 34 minutes when he shook off McBride and burst into the box.

Then in 36 minutes John Stewart cleared off the Falkirk line when Bougherra flicked on Lafferty’s corner and both Boyd and Dailly attacked the ball at the back post.

You would have thought there would be more urgency about Rangers in the early moments of the second half but it was Falkirk who looked the hungrier.

And their hard work paid off when they won a penalty four minutes into the second half when Whittaker brought down McBride after Latapy had played the ball in from the right.

It was massive moment and Allan McGregor saved Rangers when he brilliantly blocked Higdon’s spot kick diving to his left. It was a real captain’s moment.

Still Falkirk looked the more enterprising side in the early moments of the second half but in one combination between Rangers’ three attacking players they took the lead in 63 minutes.

Boyd cleverly flicked the ball wide for Lafferty inside the Falkirk box on the right side and he cleverly cut the ball across the face of goal where Andrius Velicka had the simplest of chances to fire the ball into the net.

Velicka savoured the moment in front of the Rangers fans, among whom where Carlos Cuellar and Nacho Novo, and there was no doubting the importance of it.

The irony was that it had looked as though Jean-Claude Darcheville was about to replace him and that event did not take place until nine minutes later.

Falkirk were not about to give in and Dailly had to make a crucial challenge on Scott Arfield in 74 minutes to stop the Falkirk midfielder from getting a clear shot on goal.

Two minutes later Boyd almost made the game safe with a looping header from Dailly’s cross but his effort flew just past the post.

In the end Rangers held on for three priceless points.

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