·6 August 2023
·6 August 2023
The Scottish Premiership commenced with a shock as the new-look Rangers side, filled with optimism and expectation, was undone by an energetic and cohesive Kilmarnock. The Ayrshire hosts displayed commendable determination and precision to secure a victory, with Brad Lyons seizing upon lax defending to net the decisive goal in the 65th minute.
Rangers, under the meticulous guidance of Michael Beale and boasting five debutants in the starting line-up, were lacking both verve and creativity. The guests, who many anticipated to challenge Celtic’s supremacy, appeared disorganised, and their aspirations were quickly stifled.
Cyriel Dessers and John Lundstram attempted to stir Rangers’ lethargic attack with a couple of first-half attempts, followed by a John Souttar header post-interval. However, these isolated sparks failed to ignite a coherent offensive display, and the team’s attack remained largely stifled throughout the game.
While Rangers’ stuttering start to the campaign can be considered a potential setback, it is vital not to overlook Kilmarnock’s exquisite performance. The Ayrshire club, showing an impressive blend of zeal and tactical nous, had near chances to expand their lead through Kyle Magennis and Danny Armstrong.
A noteworthy development was the victory marked Kilmarnock’s first triumph over Rangers since April 2020, also snapping the Ibrox club’s 20-game unbeaten streak in top-flight openers.
Todd Cantwell’s absence in the Rangers starting line-up caused ripples of surprise, and the subsequent introductions of Cantwell and new Brazilian striker Danilo did little to galvanise the visitors. Instead, it was Kilmarnock’s captain, Kyle Vassell, who made the vital impact, giving the hosts the push they needed to secure victory.
Fingers will inevitably be aimed at Rangers’ renewed attack that failed to convert chances into goals. The turning point, however, was a critical error from Souttar, whose clumsy defending paved the way for defeat. Glasgow’s relentless pace provides little room for teething issues, and with the pressure from both Old Firm clubs, the margin for error is now microscopic.
On the other side, McInnes, Kilmarnock’s shrewd manager, had seven fresh players in his line-up and had expressed pre-match his desire to display improvement after the summer rebuild. The match was a resounding endorsement of his vision, with Robbie Deas’ defensive performance deserving particular acclaim.
With this encouraging start, Kilmarnock is poised to face the challenging journey to Tynecastle before a crucial Viaplay Cup tie against Celtic. As for Rangers, the task is clear: a quick rejuvenation and a robust response to ensure they remain serious contenders in the league.