JOE GARNER headed a 94th minute winner as Rangers came from behind to defeat Partick Thistle and guarantee their place in next season’s Europa League.
Trailing 1-0 to an early Chris Doolan strike, substitute Barrie McKay scored with eight minutes left before Garner won the game in injury time in almost a carbon copy of Gers last visit to Firhill in November, where Joe Dodoo struck right at the end to secure a comeback 2-1 win.
The Light Blues began the game brightly, with Kenny Miller having a decent effort on goal after just four minutes. Joe Garner did well to win the ball in the air and knocked it down for Miller with his volley going just wide of the target.
Minutes later, after the central striker again won the ball in the air, it dropped for Josh Windass out on the left wing. He picked out Garner who had since made a smart run into the area where his first time shot found only the side netting.
Totally against the run of play however, Thistle took the lead. A Gers attack broke down and the home side poured forward, with the ball reaching Christie Elliot on the right. His cross was inch-perfect, and met in the middle by Chris Doolan who had the simple task of poking the ball into the net beyond the reach of Foderingham.
It was a massive blow for Caixinha’s side, and they were fortunate not to be two behind minutes later. Doolan turned provider this time with his cross to Ryan Edwards who was lurking just a few yards from goal. Fortunately from a Gers perspective, Foderingham was there to get a foot on his shot to divert it wide for a corner.
The lightning pace at which the game began soon dropped, but Rangers struggled to recapture any of their form from early in the half, with their best opportunity before the break coming from a Danny Wilson header which went well over the bar from a James Tavernier free-kick.
The withdrawal of Martyn Waghorn after 53 minutes for Clint Hill saw a change in formation for Gers with the previous 4-2-3-1 becoming a 3-4-3, and that sparked a more positive period of play for the visitors, although clear-cut chances remained at a premium.
Indeed, Doolan possibly should have had a second goal to his name when, unmarked, he headed a Callum Booth cross over the bar.
Caixinha made further alterations on the 66 minute mark with Jamie Barjonas handed a debut in place of Danny Wilson who looked to have picked up an injury.
Again though, Foderingham was required to keep Rangers in the game, saving acrobatically from Steven Lawless’ header after yet another Doolan cross. At the other end, Garner worked a yard of space for himself 25-yards out from goal, but his effort was high over the bar.
With 82 minutes gone though, Rangers all of a sudden were level thanks to some sensational Barrie McKay skill. Brought on as a sub six minutes earlier, he terrifically controlled a long David Bates ball out of defence before ghosting past two Jags players, retaining his composure as goalkeeper Thomas Cerny came to close him down, and slotting the ball into the back of the net.
It really was an excellent goal from the young Scot, and it handed the Light Blues some real impetus for the final few minutes as they set-up camp in the home half. Jamie Barjonas saw a shot blocked before Joe Dodoo, in typical Dodoo fashion, cut in from the left wing but this time his powerful drive was wide of the target.
And, just as it did when Rangers visited Firhill back in November, the game was won deep into injury time in dramatic fashion.
After a surging Tavernier run forward, Kenny Miller picked up and drifted out to the right. His cross in was quite sensational and met expertly by the head of Garner six yards out to win the game.
It sparked wild celebrations in the packed Rangers end and provided everyone with a much needed boost after a tough few weeks.
PARTICK THSITLE: Cerny, Booth, Lindsay, Osman, Doolan, Erskine (Azeez, 85), Lawless, Barton, Elliot, Keown, Edwards (McCarthy, 88).
SUBS NOT USED: Ridgers, Dumbuya, Amoo, McLaughlin, Nisbet.
RANGERS: Foderingham; Tavernier, Bates, Wilson (Barjonas, 66), Beerman; Holt (McKay, 75), Windass; Waghorn (Hill, 53), Miller, Dodoo; Garner.
SUBS: Alnwick, Halliday, Atakayi, Dallas.
REFEREE: Crawford Allan.