A Ryan Jack strike moved Rangers another inexorable step towards the Scottish Premiership title with a narrow 1-0 win over Kilmarnock at Ibrox.
The midfielder fired in a terrific volley from 25 yards in the 38th minute of lacklustre first half at Ibrox.
The Light Blues created more chances soon after the break but could not stretch their lead and thus could not relax against a sturdy Killie side until the final whistle.
Nevertheless, after dropping two points at Hamilton last week, Steven Gerrard’s side, without suspended strikers Alfredo Morelos and Kemar Roofe, got back to winning ways to move 21 points ahead of second-placed Celtic.
Celtic do have two games in hand, with the reigning champions playing at St Johnstone on Sunday.
Tommy Wright was taking charge of the struggling Ayrshire side for the second time and it was club’s seventh defeat in a row but he will be pleased with aspects of the game.
Gerrard shuffled the pack again and brought back Leon Balogun, Jack and Steven Davis with fit-again Jermain Defoe and Scott Arfield back on the bench.
Rangers dominated the ball but struggled to create opportunities.
Killie, whose new signing, former Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty, was not in the squad but who had Youssouf Mulumbu and Aaron Tshibola back in midfield, defended tenaciously.
Gers skipper James Tavernier did have the ball in the net in the 18th minute after taking a Cedric Itten pass but the offside flag had already gone up.
Rangers kept probing and pressing with some patience but Killie’s rearguard held firm.
In the 27th minute, after Kilmarnock defender Clevid Dikomana tripped Itten 25 yards out, Ianis Hagi came close with a decent free-kick.
It was another set-piece which brought the goal after Tshibola conceded a free-kick 40 yards from goal.
The Killie defence failed to deal with Tavernier’s delivery into the box and when Tshibola hooked the ball clear it went only as far as Jack who returned it with a powerful volley high past Killie keeper Colin Doyle for his second goal of the season.
The home side might have doubled that lead moments later when Ryan Kent broke but his left-footed drive was tipped over by Doyle for a corner that came to nothing.
Seconds later, Rangers claimed for a penalty when Tavernier went down in the box under pressure from Rory McKenzie but referee Don Robertson played on.
Doyle saved an angled drive from Kent within seconds of the restart and minutes later the Killie keeper made a fine save from a similar effort, pushing the drive round the post for a corner, again defended by the visitors.
Rangers were breaking with much more purpose and only a fine block by Aaron McGowan prevented Joe Aribo testing Doyle with a powerful drive, while Itten’s shot on the turn went straight to the Rugby Park number one.
Rangers should have clinched the points in the 85th minute following a swift counter attack as Kent left Aribo with only Doyle to beat, but he failed to evade the keeper who got a touch, again the corner proving fruitless.
Then a Killie claim for a penalty – when Balogun tangled with Killie substitute Danny Whitehall – ignored and Rangers saw out the four minutes of added time.