Tavernier’s free-kick completes Rangers comeback win after Livingston scare

Sport

Giovanni van Bronckhorst believes Rangers will learn a lesson from a hard-fought win in their opening league match at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

Rangers trailed for the majority of the game after conceding a soft goal five minutes into the match when Joel Nouble broke past defender John Souttar to race on to a long ball and lob Jon McLaughlin – preferred to last season’s No 1 Allan McGregor in goal – and score his first goal for Livingston.

The home side defended resolutely on their artificial surface and looked capable of clinching a shock victory against last season’s Europa League finalists until Rangers turned the game on its head with two goals in three second-half minutes.

Substitute Scott Arfield levelled with a fine header before a 25-yard free-kick from captain James Tavernier secured the points to the relief of the huge travelling support.

Van Bronckhorst said: “It was a big win. It’s a vital three points from a difficult away game on a difficult surface. The start we had didn’t help. It’s a very easy goal that should not have happened. We weren’t sharp enough. There was no duel when the long ball came. We need to react better for the second ball, but we’ll be fine. It’s the first game of the season and we will learn from it.

“If you see the second-half performance, we deserved the win. In the second half we did much better. We changed our setup and then we had 45 minutes of one-way traffic.”

Livingston manager, David Martindale, claimed his side were worthy of at least a point and rued the second-half introduction of Arfield, who equalised five minutes after coming off the bench.

The midfielder had scored for Rangers against Livingston on four previous occasions and this time he glanced in a Ryan Kent cross.

Martindale said: “He is banned from Livingston, that boy! His midfield runs are brilliant. He has made a career out of it – I think he only does it against Livingston now.

“I will need to try to get him signed just to put him on the bench or in the stand so he is not playing against us. Scotty does what Scotty does and then Tav does what Tav does, that’s why he is the captain of Rangers.”

Van Bronkhorst was delighted with Tavernier’s winning free-kick, which he expertly curled past Livingston’s debutant goalkeeper Shamal George 16 minutes from time. He said: “We know the quality he has from [set pieces] and from shooting from distance. Eventually he scored a great free-kick that gave us three important points.”