01 April 2023

Malik Tillman at the double as Rangers keep up chase

01 April 2023

A goal either side of the break from Malik Tillman gave Rangers a straightforward 2-0 cinch Premiership win over bottom side Dundee United at Ibrox.

Gers boss Michael Beale called for a big Ibrox performance after impressive displays away from home against Hearts, Hibernian and Motherwell but it was all rather flat until the 38th minute when the Bayern Munich loan midfielder got the breakthrough with a confident finish.

The silky 20-year-old added a second in the 55th minute to make it six goals in six games and 12 for the season and it was ultimately a comfortable afternoon for the Light Blues.

Beale has only lost once in 20 games since becoming Gers manager and his side moved six points behind Celtic, who travel to Ross County on Sunday.

However, while Rangers keep winning there is no sign of a slip-up from their Old Firm rivals.

Jim Goodwin’s United side remain two points behind Ross County and while they will not have banked on taking anything from Ibrox they have plenty of work to do if they are to survive.

Before the game former Rangers player and manager John Greig made a presentation to goalkeeper Allan McGregor to mark his 500th appearance for the home side and he had one of his easiest matches.

Borna Barisic, Tillman and Alfredo Morelos returned to the Gers starting line-up at the expense of Ridvan Yilmaz, Antonio Colak and Fashion Sakala.

United, with right wing-back Kieran Freeman in for the injured Liam Smith, had a reasonably stress-free start to the game.

In the eighth minute Tannadice keeper Mark Birighitti blocked a close-range drive from Rangers captain James Tavernier.

Efforts from Morelos and Ryan Kent followed but Birighitti remained untroubled unlike United midfielder Peter Pawlett, who picked up an injury after 20 minutes and had to be replaced by Kai Fotheringham.

It was all a bit slow for the Light Blues fans.

In the 25th minute Birighitti parried a side-footed shot from Gers midfielder Todd Cantwell and Tillman went flying as he challenged the keeper for the loose ball but referee Don Robertson was not entertaining any notions of a penalty.

In the 34th minute United midfielder Craig Sibbald burst forward and rifled the ball just over the Rangers bar from 25 yards, eliciting the first real groans of the afternoon from the home fans.

However, it was soon all cheers when Gers defender Connor Goldson fired a pass toward Cantwell at the edge of the box and he quickly reversed the ball to Tillman, who despatched an angled drive low past Birighitti from 10 yards.

Kent thundered a 25-yard drive off the crossbar in added time in the first half before Morelos headed over from close range and Rangers continued their quest for a second goal after the break and it came when Tillman took advantage of hesitancy inside a busy United box to drive in from 12 yards.

Tillman was looking for his hat-trick and a powerful drive from outside the box was beaten away by Birighitti, before Kent passed up a good chance when he lifted a shot over the bar from 10 yards.

Rangers penned the visitors back for long spells with Birighitti saving a point-blank shot by Tavernier following good work by Tillman, before pushing a shot from Morelos round the post for another corner which came to nothing.

Beale’s next challenge is next week at Celtic Park with no travelling fans allowed inside the stadium and that undoubtedly will be his toughest test to date.

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