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
Tom Lawrence (right) made his first Rangers start in over a year in Perth

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.

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Danilo suffered a fractured cheekbone 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 offside in the build-up.

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Rangers’ Kemar Roofe was denied a goal by VAR to put his side two up against St Johnstone

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.

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.

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Rabbi Matondo puts Rangers two up away at St Johnstone with this cool finish

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.

Beale: A step in the right direction

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Rangers boss Michael Beale was pleased with his side’s start as they beat St Johnstone but confirmed that they will be without Danilo for a while after he got injured during the game

Rangers manager Michael Beale on Sky Sports:

“I thought we started the game really well and had a few chances.

“It was an excellent opening goal but we unfortunately lost Danilo and the delay took the momentum out of the game.

“We had a lot of chances and I’m delighted for Rabbi (Matondo) because he has come on in games and had a big impact.

“It was an excellent goal – and well done to Tom Lawrence, straight back in with a first 90 minutes in a long, long time.

“It was good for Kemar Roofe to get 90 minutes and I was really pleased by Ben Davies too.

“That was our third clean sheet in five league games.

“It is a step in the right direction. There were moments I was really happy with and other moments we’ve got to work on of course, but St Johnstone never make it easy here.”

MacLean taking the positives

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St Johnstone boss Steven MacLean says he think his side will be fine after their transfer business despite losing at home to Rangers

St Johnstone manager Steven MacLean on Sky Sports:

“I’m disappointed, especially with two goals we lost.

“The first goal is our corner and we get done in transition – we don’t run back to our goal quick enough.

“The second goal we are in control of the ball and lose it, get done in transition and Matondo is very quick.

“I thought our shape was very good. I’d like us to be a bit tidier in possession at times but in the second half, we created a few opportunities.

“A lot of positives to take, we worked very hard and our shape was good at times.

Going forward, we have 11 new players in the building and I think we’ll be fine.

“I was worried at the start of the season but I think we’ll be fine after the transfer window.

“The levels are getting better every day, we’ve got to just keep working hard in training – we’ll be fine.”

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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