RANGERS fans might have hoped to catch a first glimpse of their new stars against Partick.
But it was the old guard who showed them the way as Steven Gerrard’s Gers kicked off their new season with a win over the Jags.
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A second half goal from sub Cedric Itten gave the Premiership title favourites the victory at Firhill over Ian McCall’s Championship outfit.
It probably could and should have been more with skipper James Tavernier missing from the penalty spot and Kemar Roofe hitting the woodwork.
Rangers didn’t give any of their summer recruits Fashion Sakala, Nnamdi Ofoborh or John Lundstram any action but no doubt they will come into consideration in the near future.
Gerrard probably didn’t learn much from the win but these games are all about blowing away the cobwebs and getting some minutes back into the legs.
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With Champions League qualifiers and the defence of a first Premiership crown in a decade fast approaching, assistant boss Gary McAllister reckons it was a worthwhile runout and believes veteran Steven Davis showed his class.
He said: “We said Thistle would give us a good test and it was.
“It was a great exercise tonight with 20 outfield players getting 45 minutes, which is getting minutes into their legs.
“We got a clean sheet and OK, we missed a penalty, but I liked the goal.
“Ianis Hagi was impressive with his back post header, a good knock down to Cedric and a good goal.
“The second half we played more senior players on the pitch and you could see the composure and the quality.
“Looking at Steven Davis again, outstanding and I thought he was the pick of the game tonight.
“Stephen Kelly did fantastically well but overall we are delighted for all the players and they are looking pretty sharp.
“The thing is, we are hopeful of no injuries. There will be a few aches and pains but we will look forward to getting into the training ground and then travel down to Liverpool for the Tranmere game.”
Rangers started with a young side but it was their most experienced head who had their first chance on 19 minutes.
The veteran striker beat the offside trap to get onto Glenn Middleton’s through ball. You fancied him to net only for Jamie Sneddon to stick out a leg to brilliantly block the shot.
At the other end Robby McCrorie made a superb fingertip save to prevent Brian Graham giving the Jags the lead.
Middleton should have fired Rangers ahead as Jordan Jones set him up 12-yards out. The wide man was unmarked although he got his shot all wrong and it flashed harmlessly off target.
At half-time Gerrard called for the experienced heads to take over with only McCrorie of the starters remaining.
Itten forced Sneddon into another decent low stop five minutes after the restart as Rangers took command.
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The Ibrox full-backs combined just before the hour mark as Calvin Bassey got to the byline and cut it across to skipper Tavernier.
He blasted for goal but Kevin Holt blocked it in the nick of time, with Connor Goldson sending his header over from the resulting corner.
Sneddon showed safe hands to gather Roofe’s strike, before Steven Bell’s timely interception soon after kept the score level.
With 14 minutes left Roofe was inches away from putting Rangers ahead. He collected Joe Aribo’s pass and his shot beat Sneddon but it smacked off the post.
Rangers were awarded a penalty with nine minutes left as Richard Foster was judged to have handled Tavernier’s free-kick.
The Ibrox skipper stepped up himself only to see his shot smash off the woodwork.
But the goal did arrive with seven minutes left as Itten timed his run perfectly to fire Gerrard’s men in front.
Roofe’s back post cross was nodded into the Swiss striker’s path by Ianis Hagi and he coolly slotted home from six yards for the victory.
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