Danilo, Matondo strike as Gers win in Perth | Beale: A step in the right direction

The pressure eased on Michael Beale as Rangers hollowed out a 2-0 cinch Premiership win over St Johnstone but the Ibrox side again failed to hit the heights.

The Gers boss was under intense scrutiny following defeats to Celtic and PSV Eindhoven before the international break.

Danilo helped ease some of the heat when he headed the visitors ahead after 16 minutes before substitute Rabbi Matondo added a second in the 79th minute. It was far from a convincing performance from the Gers, however, against a side who are still looking for their first league win this season.

How Rangers won at McDiarmid Park

Rabbi Matondo scores Rangers' second at St Johnstone

Beale made six changes with Ben Davies, Ridvan Yilmaz, John Lundstram, Tom Lawrence, Sam Lammers and Danilo back in the side.

Lawrence was making his first start in over a year after recovering from a serious knee injury while Davies made his first appearance of the season.

Saints boss Steven MacLean gave striker Chris Kane his first start since January 2022 and he was one of four changes with captain Liam Gordon, Oludare Olufunwa and Max Kucheriavyi also coming in.

Dara Costelloe makes a lunging challenge on Tom Lawrence
Dara Costelloe makes a lunging challenge on Tom Lawrence

It was a far from impressive start by the visitors but they took the lead following a break from a St Johnstone corner.

Skipper James Tavernier took a pass from Nicolas Raskin, played a one-two with Lammers and went past Graham Carey with ease before crossing for Danilo to head past keeper Dimitar Mitov from six yards.

Danilo cracked heads with Gordon in the aerial joust and both had to go off with Abdallah Sima and Sam McClelland respectively coming on.

Danilo leaves the field through injury after heading Rangers ahead against St Johnstone
Danilo leaves the field through injury after heading Rangers ahead against St Johnstone

The goal relaxed the Govan side a little.

In the 24th minute Sima burst into the St Johnstone box but opted to drive straight at Mitov from an angle with Lammers and Kemar Roofe waiting to tap in.

Mitov saved Sima’s drive from distance before the break but Rangers looked ropey at the start of the second half.

A short pass-back by Davies to Jack Butland saw Kane nip in before it got to the keeper and he tumbled to the ground but referee Nick Walsh ignored penalty claims and the VAR Gavin Duncan did not ask him to have a look.

Abdallah Sima attempts an overhead kick against St Johnstone
Abdallah Sima attempts an overhead kick against St Johnstone

Kane went sprawling again after being involved with Lawrence inside the box at a St Johnstone corner moments later and again a VAR check brought no joy for the home side.

Rangers still could not get into a flow.

In the 63rd minute Roofe had the ball in the net from a Sima cut-back but the goal was ruled out for an infringement.

MacLean was then booked at the touchline after complaining that referee Walsh had stopped play for a foul for Saints when his side were ready to break.

Rabbi Maotondo celebrates after scoring Rangers' second at St Johnstone

Lawrence had a decent drive saved by Mitov before Matondo, on for Lammers, raced on to a Lawrence pass and slipped the ball past Mitov to seal three points.

St Johnstone substitute Cammy MacPherson headed a Carey cross past the post from six yards but the Govan side cruised the final stages although, ultimately, it was another Rangers performance that left more questions than answers.

What’s next?

St Johnstone’s next Scottish Premiership match is away to Hibernian on September 23. Kick-off 3pm.

Rangers are in European action next as they face Real Betis in the Europa League group stages at home on September 21, kick-off 8pm.

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