An Abdallah Sima double got Rangers back to winning ways with a 2-0 cinch Premiership victory over St Mirren at Ibrox.
Philippe Clement’s side had drawn in their last two matches against Aris Limassol and Aberdeen and the on-loan striker from Brighton quelled growing frustration in the stands when he broke the deadlock for the unimpressive home side with a strike just before the break.
The Light Blues grew stronger in the second half and Sima grabbed a second in the 70th minute with a fine finish to take his tally for the season to 11, with Rangers moving back to eight points behind leaders Celtic having played a game fewer.
Clement extended his unbeaten run to 10 games since taking over as boss but will require much more from his side if they are to topple the champions.
A much-changed Rangers started the game 11 points behind Celtic, who beat St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park earlier in the day.
Clement brought in winger Ross McCausland, Connor Goldson, Leon Balogun, Tom Lawrence and Cyriel Dessers, while Buddies boss Stephen Robinson also rung the changes with Jonah Ayunga, Ryan Flynn, Richard Taylor and Caolan Boyd-Munce drafted in.
The early stages were mostly uneventful.
In the fourth minute a Dessers attempt from skipper James Tavernier’s corner was saved comfortably by Saints keeper Zach Hemming before the Gers striker turned a Tavernier cross past the post from close range.
Todd Cantwell, replaced after just 35 minutes of the 1-1 Europa League draw against Aris Limassol on Thursday night, was moved from right wing into the middle and looked more comfortable but he was off balance when Tavernier headed back a Borna Barisic cross, and the ball was cleared.
It was all pretty dull as Sima headed a Tavernier cross just over the bar in the 23rd minute just before St Mirren defender Marcus Fraser was booked by referee Matthew MacDermid for time-wasting at a throw-in.
Saints had their moments – a Scott Tanser cross just evaded the unmarked Ayunga before Gers keeper Jack Butland turned a Boyd-Munce shot past the post for a corner which was defended.
The game looked to be heading to the interval goalless before Sima, who recently became a father, struck.
McCausland, Dessers and Cantwell linked up well and as the latter jinked inside the box to tee up a shot, Sima took the ball off his toes and thundered a drive past Hemming from 12 yards to cheers of relief.
St Mirren started the second half positively an again Butland was required to save an Ayunga shot past the post for the first of three successive corners which came to nothing.
Hemming beat away a powerful Tavernier shot and blocked a Dessers drive – his last real contribution before being replaced by Brazilian striker Danilo – as Rangers responded and Cantwell and McCausland began to affect proceedings.
When Cantwell put Sima through on goal with a stunning pass the Senegal striker guided the ball low past Hemming with a VAR check confirming he was not offside and with that, the three points were remaining in Ibrox.