RANGERS won this afternoon’s Glasgow derby at Ibrox Stadium, deservedly seeing-off Alan Archibald’s Partick Thistle.
The Light Blues remain unbeaten under new boss Pedro Caixinha after five games, with the most impressive stat from his time in charge so far being the concession of just one goal.
The Gers now head into next weekend’s crunch Scottish Cup semi-final with Celtic in fine fettle as they look to end the season on a high by reaching the Scottish Cup final once more.
Back to today though and Thistle, buoyed by securing top-six status for the first time in the modern era last weekend, began the match full of energy. After a mix-up between Myles Beerman and Barrie McKay, Ade Azeez charged forward down the right in the first minute and chipped a ball into the penalty area, only for it to be well cleared by the head of David Bates.
That really was as good as it got in the opening stages however, with both sides being rather tentative in possession and creating little in the way of goalscoring chances.
That was until the 21st minute when Beerman did extremely well to bring down a Wes Foderingham ball down on his toe in midfield before immediately charging forward and shooting for goal – with his effort deflected just wide of the target.
The young Maltese then had a similar effort 10 minutes later, drifting inside this time from the left before Liam Lindsay got his head to Beerman’s seemingly goalbound drive.
His second effort prompted a more lively few minutes for Rangers with a couple of corner kicks, and after one such set-piece was cleared to Jon Toral 25-yards out, a fearsome shot from the Spaniard was blasted back off the line by David Amoo.
Minutes later, another corner was sent in from the right by McKay, with his ball being met by Danny Wilson almost on the penalty spot with the Gers Academy product bringing out a quite wonderful save from Tomas Cerny.
All of a sudden, it seemed the goal was coming, and on the 39 minute mark it duly arrived, and once again, it was Kenny Miller putting the Gers in front.
James Tavernier for the first time was allowed to stretch his legs out on the right and he delivered a quite superb ball in for Miller at the back post to rise above Niall Keown and head into the opposite corner.
For the play the home side had in the minutes leading to the goal, it was certainly deserved, but at the other end, they once again had Wes Foderingham to thank for another wonderful save to keep their new-found advantage intact. Ryan Edwards found space on the right to charge into the area before shooting for goal, but there to rescue Gers was the seemingly impenetrable Foderingham.
Indeed, his save was almost the platform for Gers to go 2-0 up, but after Tavernier had ghosted through much of the pitch before shooting for goal, his effort was deflected back into the path of Emerson Hyndma, and his subsequent drive was held by Cerny.
Rangers began the second half full of purpose, and having been introduced for Barrie Mckay at the break, Joe Dodoo almost had an instant impact, doing well to keep the ball in play on the left before finding Miller on the edge of the box, although this time he shot wide of the target with a ferocious drive.
The Ghanaian then went himself from a similar starting position, working his way into the area before firing straight at Cerny. Jon Toral then had a shot from the edge of the area deflected into the side netting as Pedro Caixinha’s men kept up the pressure.
The Spaniard wasn’t to be denied for long however.
Receiving the ball from a short throw, Emerson Hyndman played a neat one-two with Toral before skinning Lindsay to burst into the area.
Rather than going for goal himself however, the American squared for Toral who had joined him in the area, and he emphatically finished beyond Cerny to give the Light Blues the breathing space they craved.
Toral then came close to turning provider, showing a lovely touch in midfield to bring the ball under control before playing in Martyn Waghorn, the Englishman being denied only by Cerny at full stretch to push his shot wide, before the Czech had another superb save in similar fashion a short time later, this time denying Miller who again drove from outside the area after being fed by Hyndman.
Thistle would have been disappointed not to provide more of a threat on the Rangers goal, with their best effort of the second half coming with 10 minutes left to play as Chris Erskine stung the palms of Foderingham with a shot from the edge of the box.
From a Gers perspective, they were extremely comfortable throughout the second half, and could and probably should have added to their lead, with their final chance coming in injury time with substitute Andy Halliday stinging Cerny’s palms as again the goalkeeper proved to the Maryhill men’s saviour.
All eyes now switch to Hampden Park and next Sunday’s mammoth Scottish Cup clash with Celtic with the Gers camp going into that match full of confidence.
RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, Bates, Wilson, Beerman, Holt, Hyndman, Toral (Halliday, 84), Miller, Waghorn (Garner, 75), McKay (Dodoo, 45).
SUBS NOT USED: Alnwick, Windass, Hodson, Wilson.
PARTICK THISTLE: Cerny, Dumbuya, Lindsay, Amoo (Erskine, 50) Lawless (Nisbet, 73), Barton, Elliot, Devine, Azeez (Doolan, 56), Keown, Edwards.
SUBS NOT USED: Ridgers, McLaughlin, McCarthy, Lamont.
REFEREE: Nick Walsh
ATTENDANCE: 49, 748