Philippe Clement recently learned about Rangers’ impressive record against Ross County but is still anticipating a tough challenge in Dingwall on Sunday.

In 24 meetings between the two clubs, the Light Blues have won 20 with four games drawn, three of which came in the 2016/17 campaign with the most recent in January 2022, when the Staggies’ Matthew Wright scored a stoppage-time equaliser for a 3-3 draw.

The two cinch Premiership clashes this season ended with a 2-0 away win for Rangers last August when Michael Beale was still Gers boss before he was replaced by the Belgian in October, and a 3-1 win for the Govan side at Ibrox in February.

However, Clement will not pay too much attention to the past and said: “I read from their manager that they are super-motivated and want to do something special.

“It is always the case that we have respect for every opponent.

“They played a good game at Ibrox also. We know we need to play a good game to get the three points. We are focused on that now.”

Clement admits preparations have had to change this week after Wednesday night’s game against Dundee at Dens Park was postponed for a second time.

Referee Don Robertson deemed the waterlogged pitch unplayable following a second inspection of the day at 3.30pm.

The first cancellation came last month, 90 minutes before the scheduled kick-off, and the game will be played next Wednesday night on Tayside, although it could be moved to a neutral venue if the weather is again a problem.

Clement said: “We had to change plans. It is a different preparation but no excuse towards the game on Sunday.

“I am not somebody who wants to have excuses if we need to change plans.

“We always adapt to the situation but, of course, if I see things that are not normal I will speak about it.

“I will always adapt to win games with my team, whatever decisions are made we go to win games. That is the mindset. No excuses around that

Philippe Clement insists Rangers are prepared to play their twice-postponed game against Dundee behind closed doors – and even on Mars – after a proposal to fulfil the fixture on Thursday was rejected.

The Govan club accused Dundee of “negligence and unprofessionalism” after their cinch Premiership match at Dens Park was called off again on Wednesday night.

The game has been rescheduled for next Wednesday night after referee Don Robertson deemed the waterlogged pitch unplayable following a second inspection of the day at 3.30pm.

It is the second time the game has been postponed – the first came last month, 90 minutes before the scheduled kick-off – but the Gers boss revealed there will be a decision made at 12pm next Tuesday and his side will be ready to play without any supporters at an alternative venue.

“I was ready for everything and we were ready to play,” said Clement, who revealed midfielder Mohamed Diomande will miss the game at Ross County on Sunday after having an operation on his thumb having sustained the injury against Celtic last weekend.

“It is a long-time problem and a second time for us that it has been postponed,” Clement added.

“It could have been avoided by playing at another venue somewhere else because everyone knew what the situation was.

“That could have been avoided last week by taking a decision earlier or we play at another venue.

“We were even prepared to play today, so soon before the Ross County game.

“We offered that option but it was not accepted apparently, so it will be next week. It was not possible to play today at another venue.

“I don’t think the option was there (to play before Celtic game). Dundee needed time to fix their pitch to play Motherwell.

“The last thing I heard was that we will know on Tuesday at 12 o’clock at the latest where we will play on Wednesday.

“If not Dundee it will need to be somewhere else, but we must know before we travel on Tuesday.

“It is a disadvantage (behind closed doors) but it is what it is, we have to adapt, like when it was Covid and we didn’t like that.

“But our mindset is whatever decisions are made, we go to win games. So no excuses around that.

“If that is the decision, we will play behind closed doors. If they ask us to play on Mars, we go to Mars, we take a flight to win the three points. That is the mindset of me and all my players.”

Philippe Clement said Rangers faced a “crazy situation” as they prepared to travel to Dundee still unsure whether Wednesday night’s game would go ahead.

The cinch Premiership clash at the Scot Foam Stadium at Dens Park was rescheduled after it was contentiously called off 90 minutes before kick-off last month.

Dundee’s home game against Motherwell on Saturday was allowed to take place after a second pitch inspection, with the Fir Park club stating before their 3-2 comeback win they were “deeply concerned for the welfare of all players”.

Dundee managing director John Nelms told Sky Sports he was as “confident as we can be” the Rangers game would go ahead but pointed to April 16 or 17 as a contingency plan.

Gers boss Clement, whose side will leapfrog Celtic at the top of the table with a win, would prefer an early decision and said he was comfortable with the game being switched to a neutral ground to get it played before the split, saying: “In these circumstances it can be a logical choice.”

“It is a crazy situation in a top league that you don’t know the day before if the game is on or not,” said the Belgian, who confirmed Ridvan Yilmaz remained out with a knock and midfielder Ryan Jack had had a setback with a calf problem that could end his season.

“So that is a really weird situation. Okay, it can happen in extreme circumstances, but I don’t think it has happened in the last few years in all the top leagues.

“But now there is a problem every time it is raining in Scotland and it’s not that there are normally a lot of sunny days in Scotland.

“It is a bad situation for the league and for Dundee themselves, I don’t think they are happy with the situation.

“I haven’t seen the pitch, but it was clear when we were there the last time that it was dangerous for both sides and it was not playable, but I am not the one who decides, it is the referee who decides.

“I want a decision today because you want to prepare, but both clubs and the league are in talks about that.

“If it is not possible you want to see what the alternative is. We don’t have much time because there is a split in the league. These things give a bad image to the league and it needs to be solved.

“If you want to play in Dundee next week, what is going to happen if it rains next week? Strange for me because every time it rains there is a problem.”

As his squad got ready to travel to their hotel near Dundee on Tuesday afternoon, Clement asked for a decision to be made the day before the scheduled kick-off.

He said: “If we cannot play tomorrow, when are we going to play? Thursday?

“If it is Thursday I would like to know today so we can train tomorrow.

“If the decision is made tomorrow evening, we have one afternoon, evening in a hotel near to Dundee for nothing.

“I understand that games are cancelled in the last minutes, last hours in special weather circumstances, but this is something that is repeated every time it is raining so I think you can make an assessment today.”

Clement said there was a “big chance” long-term absentees Danilo and Oscar Cortes would not return before the end of the season.

Philippe Clement is excited rather than nervous about Sunday’s keenly-awaited Old Firm game at Ibrox.

Rangers are one point behind reigning cinch Premiership champions Celtic with a game in hand as title race tensions increase by the week.

It is the first of eight remaining league fixtures for the Govan side, who are desperate to wrest the title back from Parkhead and it is the first home Glasgow derby for the Belgian boss.

Asked if there were any nerves from within heading into the game, Clement said: “No, I love it. I’m not nervous, I’m excited about it, I’m looking forward to it.

“This is something you need to embrace, not be nervous about. These are great afternoons.

“I have a lot of confidence in my squad and I have a lot of confidence in our fans so those are the challenging moments because you play against a good team who will do their best to beat you and there will be a lot of quality from both sides.

“It’s the only way also to grow as a player, to have challenges, to have tough games, to play against good opponents.

“If you make the next steps into that you go to another level and that’s what I want to do with this club and with the squad next season – to become better and to raise the level time after time with a lot of success and maybe some disappointments along the way because that’s also the way to success. To learn lessons out of that.

“I prefer to have success on Sunday, let’s be clear about that.”

Clement admits Rangers will need to keep an eye on Celtic captain Callum McGregor, who is expected to return from injury to the Hoops midfield where he was instrumental in guiding his side to a 1-0 win at Ibrox in September – when Michael Beale was Gers boss – and a 2-1 victory at Parkhead in December.

He said: “I don’t totally agree that he dominated the play at Celtic Park. There were moments that he was good on the ball but there were also moments where he wasn’t dominating the game.

“I think my midfielders also dominated the game in moments. I saw the first game and it’s true he was dominating but I don’t need to say too much about that.

“He’s a very good player and he’s somebody with a lot of quality.

“He’s really good on the ball and he’s very important for their team so it’s important to take that strength out of their team and that’s one part you need to do but it’s not only about one player. They have a lot of good players.”

Rangers boss Philippe Clement insists Sunday’s Old Firm game at Ibrox will not be decisive in terms of the cinch Premiership title race.

With eight fixtures remaining, the Light Blues are one point behind reigning champions Celtic with a game in hand.

Rangers lost 1-0 to Celtic at Ibrox in September when Michael Beale was in charge and went down 2-1 at Celtic Park in December in Clement’s first experience of a Glasgow derby, and there will be another Old Firm game at Celtic Park after the split.

However, the Belgian somewhat played down the significance of Sunday’s lunchtime clash in Govan.

“It is always a big game, it is a six-point game and we know we have another one in a few weeks but it is not yet a decisive game,” said Clement, who revealed that left-back Ridvan Yilmaz, who injured himself on international duty with Turkey, will be assessed for his fitness.

“So whoever wins is not champions. It is not like that. I am happy with what I have seen from my team after the last Old Firm game.

“We have had 11 games until now and we took 30 points from 33 and we could have taken more points in the Motherwell game, it could have been better than that and we scored more goals than Celtic in that period and less goals against.

“So that is really good consistency but not a guarantee for anything.

“It is a really big step forward from the beginning of the season and my first part of the season that there has been more consistency.

“Bigger squad, better results, more people ready to do the job so I see my team growing month by month and this is the next challenge.

“But don’t forget this, there are still a lot of games to play, not only the two Old Firm games.”

Clement also believes there will be no psychological impact on his players regardless of the result.

He said: “No, because my message has been really clear from the beginning. I don’t want a team that after a disappointment stay in the disappointment and they have proven that, not too much because we haven’t had too much disappointment.

“And I don’t want a team that when they have a really good moment like it was in Seville (beat Real Betis 3-2) that they stay in that emotion and the next game they are not there. That is stupid because you lose the points.

“So there will not be a difference, whatever the result but we are of course going to go full out to get the three points.”

On Yilmaz’s condition, Clement said: “We will make a decision tomorrow or even on Sunday around that.

“He has been training but not enough with the team to ensure he is in the squad.

“(Abdallah) Sima is fit enough to start but not to play 90 minutes. It depends which part of the game you want him on the pitch so that is my decision.”

Philippe Clement hailed the “amazing” achievement of James Tavernier after the Rangers captain broke the British goalscoring record for defenders in the 3-1 win over Hibernian at Ibrox.

Light Blues winger Scott Wright had the ball in the net in the 21st minute after Hibs keeper David Marshall saved a Tavernier penalty but was penalised for encroachment.

However,  the 32-year-old Gers full-back, who joined the Light Blues in 2015, made amends by firing in his 22nd goal of the season and his 131st in total, taking him past former Preston, Burnley and Scotland defender Graham Alexander, who scored 130.

In the second minute of added time Myziane Maolida levelled, only for Gers striker Cyriel Dessers to put the Gers back in front with a header before the interval.

Substitute Rabbi Matondo drove in a third in the 85th minute to take the Light Blues two points ahead of Celtic at the top of the cinch Premiership.

Clement, who described the victory as “very satisfying”, said: “It’s an amazing achievement, especially as he still has a couple of years to go so he can only make this record bigger and bigger.

“If you speak about the full history of football then you cannot imagine how many good defenders and how many defenders with good attacking qualities who have played the game.

“To be there on top – it’s an amazing achievement and we’re all proud of him. I said it in the dressing room also after the game.

“I don’t too often point out individual players, I don’t like it too much, but I had to do it this time.

“All the players are really proud of him, all the staff and the fans and everybody involved with Rangers. It’s really quite exceptional.”

Tavernier described his achievement as “crazy”.

He said: “If you would have told me when I first jumped into professional football that I would have a chance to become the highest-scoring British defender in history I would not have believed you.

“That is down to all the team-mates I have played with over the years who have helped me through the journey. I will just continue working hard and see how many I can get until I hang my boots up a long way down the line.”

Celtic have the chance to reclaim top spot at Livingston on Sunday before they visit Govan next week.

Clement is confident but does not believe the match is a title decider.

He said: “I’m confident we can win against everybody. Are we at our best now? No. We had all the injuries and some players are not there at their best yet.

“But I also know that we can win that game and we have the quality to do that.

“It’s also not the decisive ending game of the season. We still have eight games to go.”

Hibs boss Nick Montgomery had no complaints about the result.

He said: “I thought in patches we played good football but not good enough today.

“Against quality opposition you have to do the basics well and stop crosses, pick up in the box and block shots at the edge of the box.”

Rangers were knocked out of the Europa League after conceding the only goal against Benfica at Ibrox to lose 3-2 on aggregate.

Philippe Clement’s side were caught on the counter-attack by a simple forward ball in the 66th minute and Rafa Silva’s goal stood following a VAR check after initially being ruled out for offside.

Rangers had twice taken the lead in Lisbon last week but a penalty and an own goal cost them victory in the first leg and they could not take advantage of several chances in a tighter affair in Glasgow.

The Rangers fans in the Broomloan Stand produced a massive pre-match display that showed their sights were very much on the road to Dublin for the final on May 22 ahead of the last-16 second leg.

But there will be no repeat of the club’s run to the 2022 final and the cinch Premiership leaders must now focus on what could still be a highly successful domestic season with a treble a real possibility.

Benfica had some good early possession but Rangers had the first real chance when Tom Lawrence combined with Fabio Silva and fired a shot which Anatoliy Trubin let through his legs. The visiting goalkeeper was fortunate to see the ball trundle wide after hitting off his leg.

Lawrence soon had another chance when James Tavernier’s clever low corner gave him a free shot at goal 15 yards out but he failed to connect properly.

Jack Butland showed good hands in the slippery conditions to hold Alexander Bah’s long-range strike.

The vast majority of the 50,000 fans, including the Benfica supporters, paid tribute in the 25th minute to young Rangers fan Thomas McAllister, who died while in Lisbon for the first leg.

The first half continued in a more cagey fashion than that 2-2 draw in Portugal.

John Souttar was impressing in central defence for Rangers and his cross almost fell for Cyriel Dessers before Scott Wright slipped in the act of shooting from 22 yards and the ball sailed over.

Rangers survived a dangerous Benfica attack after John Lundstram fluffed a pass inside his own half.

The home side had a great chance on the counter-attack before the break following good work from Wright, but Lawrence picked the wrong option and played in a clearly offside Dessers.

Dessers did get a chance early in the second half after Wright burst past two opponents and played the striker in. The forward might have gone for goal first time but he took a touch and his shot was heading for the far corner but deflected just wide.

The home side kept on the pressure but Benfica worked a good chance for Casper Tengstedt following a slick break. The substitute shot straight at Butland from 12 yards.

Rangers were again exposed from a counter-attack as Benfica took the lead for the first time in the tie.

Angel Di Maria headed on a ball over the top and Rafa Silva raced clear before slotting home. The offside flag went up but a lengthy VAR check decided the goalscorer was just inside his own half when the ball was played on, and the goal was given.

Rangers’ attempts to get back in the game were not helped by the surface water on the pitch slowing the ball down amid a day of incessant rain in Glasgow and Butland saved well from Bah as Benfica looked to finish off the tie.

Lundstram got an effort on target in the latter stages but Trubin saved comfortably and Rangers’ hopes ended when substitute Todd Cantwell stabbed wide in stoppage-time.

Bullish Philippe Clement has challenged Rangers to make the rest of Europe sit up and take note by reaching the quarter-finals of the Europa League at the expense of Benfica.

The two sides are locked at 2-2 after the first leg in Lisbon and the Ibrox boss, who is ready to welcome influential midfielder Todd Cantwell back into his squad after injury, believes it would be a statement result for his players if they could eliminate the Portuguese title chasers on Thursday.

“We are not naive, we know that Benfica has a really talented squad with a lot of experience also,” Clement said at his pre-match press conference.

“They have World Cup winners in their team, they have a lot of really big talents who will go for a lot of money after this season maybe and other players who have played at a really high level before.

“We know it will be a really big surprise in all of Europe if we can take out Benfica, but we are really hungry to do that.”

Clement told his Rangers players that, if they have aspirations of playing at the very top level, then it is nights like Thursday when they can showcase their abilities.

“It would be something really exciting, because they will show something towards all of Europe (if they get through),” said the manager. “For their career, it can be something really special.

“When you do special things like this, you can come more into attention. I understand the story here in the club that if players can make a step higher than Rangers and there’s a good deal for the club, you need to accept that and find other players to replace them in a good way.

“So in evenings like this, they can make steps in that way. But the most important thing is to understand that it is not an individual thing to show yourself. They can only show themselves if they show themselves as a team.”

Clement admits Benfica are slight favourites, but having led former side Club Brugge to a 2-2 draw in the Bernabeu in October 2019, he will not allow his team to go into the match with any sense of inferiority in front of another capacity Ibrox crowd

“Yes, I think so,” he said when asked if Gers were the underdogs. “If you’re realistic, yes. But in my heart, no.

“I’m always a realistic guy, but I’m a realistic guy who sets the standards high and I know, and I’ve seen, that this team can do that. I told them before the Benfica game that with Brugge we drew 2-2 with Real Madrid and we deserved that.

“We could have won that one, but this Rangers team is better than that Brugge team, so I believe we can win against whatever team we play when things fall on our side. I really believe that.

“I know that Benfica rested four or five players at the weekend towards this game. But my players are ready, I saw enough today, I see the freshness is back, the hunger is really big.

“We know we need to play above our level to qualify, but we are going to do everything to do that and the support of the fans can give something extra.

“This game was sold out really fast. Although it is a really early kick-off and a lot of people have to take a day off work to get to the stadium, we could have sold the stadium two, three times.”

Dujon Sterling will miss out with a minor injury, while Ross McCausland is a doubt, but Cantwell is set to return after missing the last five matches with a hamstring issue.

“He is ready to play an amount of minutes,” said Clement. “He is clearly not ready for 90 minutes, so then it’s about deciding whether to start him or not.

“He feels good and he was good in the training so I’m happy to see him back.”

Philippe Clement insists Rangers came close to a “miracle” win over Benfica in their thrilling Europa League last-16 tie which ended 2-2 in Lisbon.

Midfielder Tom Lawrence gave the Light Blues the lead in the seventh minute of the first leg with a header before Argentina World Cup winner Angel Di Maria levelled with a penalty in added time after VAR intervened to highlight that Gers defender John Souttar had used his arm inside the box.

Dujon Sterling restored the visitors’ lead in added time with his first career goal only for Gers defender Connor Goldson to head into his own goal in the 67th minute and the tie is now set up nicely for next Thursday in Govan.

With a nod to Benfica’s huge budget in comparison to that of Rangers, the Light Blues boss said: “We were really close to making this miracle, the first team ever in the Europa League to win here.

“It is a pity to get a penalty against us like that, it is really an unlucky situation, the ball drops and John doesn’t see it and it drops on his arm. That is really unlucky.

“We were really close, we had two opportunities with Fabio (Silva) and Cyriel (Dessers) to make it 3-1, it would have changed a lot in this game but I am really proud of my team.

“They showed character, personality and solidarity also with the ball we scored two really good goals.

“I am really someone who is demanding but I cannot give more than what they gave today. They gave their all and also, the guys who came in.

“We missed a lot of players in the offensive position so other players had to do the job. I am very happy with Fabio and Dujon.

“We need to continue like this. If we keep this mentality that they have been showing in the last couple of months it could be an amazing season.”

Asked if Rangers now have the advantage in the tie, the Belgian boss said: “It’s only an advantage that it’s at Ibrox. If our fans are on top of it from the first second until the last second then they can give a lot of energy to the team.

“But we stay realistic about the qualities of Benfica. You guys wrote this week about the difference in the transfer budgets and that’s the reality. If we could eliminate this team I think it would be a huge, huge thing.

“I can only ask for my players to give their best and to show that they have shown tonight again on Thursday.”

Clement went on to describe the penalty as “very harsh”, saying: “I have said it already a few times that I don’t agree where the game has gone to with handball situations. I know those are the rules.

“I had more problems with some situations in the last couple of weeks.

“With the rules and how they are now, you can give this penalty. But as somebody who loves football, I have difficulty with those rules.

“And I think all the managers and all the players think the same.

“It is too harsh now that a ball that is clearly not intended to go against your arm, the moment it touches you it’s a penalty.

“Too many games all over the world are  decided in this way with these handballs and these penalties.”

Rangers twice surrendered the lead to draw the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie against Benfica 2-2.

Philippe Clement’s squad was hit by injuries but returning midfielder Tom Lawrence gave the visitors a dramatic early lead with a header before Angel Di Maria levelled with a penalty kick in first-half added time after VAR intervened to highlight that Gers defender John Souttar had used his arm inside the box.

Light Blues’ utility player Dujon Sterling restored the lead in the fifth of five minutes of added time with his first career goal only for Gers defender Connor Goldson to head into his own goal midway through the second half to take the tie back to Glasgow next Thursday night level.

Much of the pre-match talk was around Clement’s limited options in attack. He was without the services of four injured wingers – Abdallah Sima, Scott Wright, Rabbi Matondo and Oscar Cortes – albeit the latter is not in the European squad. With Ross McCausland only fit to start on the bench, it meant no natural width in attack.

Portuguese attacker Fabio Silva, who spent two seasons with Benfica as a youth player, supported main striker Cyriel Dessers from the left with Sterling working off the right.

Under-pressure home boss Roger Schmidt was looking for his side to bounce back from their 5-0 thrashing by title rivals Porto at the weekend and he had a host of big names in the starting line-up including Argentina World Cup winners Nicolas Otamendi and Di Maria.

Around 3,500 Rangers fans were in position to see Gers goalkeeper Jack Butland make an early save at his near post from David Neres’ drive.

And moments later they were off their seats cheering when Silva sent Mohamed Diomande free inside the box and he lifted the ball for the in-rushing Lawrence to head down past diving keeper Anatoliy Trubin.

Butland then made a double save, first from Neres and then from striker Arthur Cabral from the loose ball, albeit his effort had been partially blocked by Souttar.

However, after VAR Marco Fritz intervened following another Benfica corner, the Gers defender was adjudged by referee German referee Tobias Stieler to have hit the ball with his arm as he defended the delivery and Di María sent Butland the wrong way with his assured penalty.

There was more first-half drama to come in the final minute of the five added when Sterling, signed from Chelsea in the summer, stole in to convert a deflected Silva cross from close range, with a VAR check confirming his landmark goal.

Both sides went for more goals from the start of the second half, with Cabral heading wide at the back post from a Rafa Silva cross before Trubin blocked a Silva effort at the other end.

However, Benfica were level again in the 67th minute when Di Maria floated in a free-kick from 35 yards and Goldson stretched to clear but only sent it past Butland.

The home side sensed a winner was there for them and Di Maria somehow missed the target from 12 yards.

In the 77th minute Kemar Roofe, Ryan Jack and Cole McKinnon took over from Dessers, Lawrence and Sterling but Benfica’s steady pressure continued to the final whistle.

The return game promises more thrills and spills but Rangers will look to complete the job in Govan.

Boss Philippe Clement claimed Ross McCausland was “kicked off the pitch” in the 2-1 defeat by Motherwell which dented Rangers’ cinch Premiership title hopes.

With the visitors leading through a Theo Bair strike, the Northern Ireland winger had to be replaced by Fabio Silva in the 35th minute after he was caught by Dan Casey after the Fir Park defender won a tackle.

Gers skipper James Tavernier scored from the spot on the hour but Casey’s 74th-minute header gave the Steelmen their first league win at Ibrox since 1997.

It was a first defeat in 12 games for Rangers and although they remain two points clear of Celtic at the top of the table, the Parkhead side get the chance to leapfrog them at Hearts on Sunday.

Clement confirmed beforehand that Oscar Cortes, on loan from Lens, would be out for “a long time” following the muscle injury picked up against Kilmarnock in midweek, with fellow wide-men Abdallah Sima and Rabbi Matondo also out.

The Gers boss said: “Ross is bad because he was kicked off the pitch. There was no foul, no yellow card, no red card.

“When I see how we’ve got red cards in the last few months – then I see this action – I don’t understand it to be honest.

“There is too much intensity. When you have to take a player off in the first-half because he can’t walk any more after contact, you need to realise something bad happened there. But clearly not.

“I didn’t think about the fact the same player scored the winning goal.

“I only think about the chances we had to score. I only think about my team and making it better.”

The Belgian boss would not directly say that Casey should have been red carded by referee Alan Muir, adding: “I am not a referee. And I know every word I say becomes a big thing always.

“I think players need to be better protected. We have now already several players kicked off the pitch this season. I think they need to be protected in a better way.”

It was the first points dropped at home by Clement since taking over from Michael Beale in October and he is expecting a positive reaction.

He said: “That’s the interesting thing now. I didn’t expect to have this moment after five months in the building. I thought it would be much earlier.

“Now I’ll get to know my team even better. I know them really well already. But now I’m going to see who’s going to be the guys to stand up after a disappointment.

“I don’t doubt it too much. They are very disappointed and a lot of heads are down. I’m disappointed too, not to get the three points.

“But you need to cope with it, take the right lessons and learn from it to become better. That’s our ambition now.”

Stuart Kettlewell was delighted with Motherwell’s performance but puzzled by Clement’s assessment of McCausland.

He said: “Everybody has got their own opinion. I don’t see it as kicked off the pitch as such.

“I’ve not seen a replay of the incident but at the time it was very close to me and Dan Casey looked 60-40 favourite, or maybe even more than that, to come through and get the ball.

“At the time I wasn’t seeing anything. The referee doesn’t even book him so it doesn’t look as if there was a foul. He was first man to the ball clearly so I’m a wee bit surprised [by Clement’s comments].”

On his side’s shock victory, the Well boss said: “We were asked plenty of questions, we were put under the cosh.

“We had to go into what I call emergency defending in the dying embers. We know that you are going to have to go through all that to get something here – you are going to have to suffer. Of that there is no question.

“When you come here that idea of just sitting in is never going to work. You need to carry a threat on the other side. That is what pleases me most.”

Jack Butland claims Rangers just keeping look ahead to the next challenge after their 2-1 win against Kilmarnock on Wednesday night kept them two points clear of Celtic at the top of the cinch Premiership.

Killie had beaten Michael Beale’s Rangers 1-0 on the opening league game of the season, but found successor Philippe Clement’s Light Blues more robust – eventually.

Danny Armstrong scored with an 11th-minute penalty after his cross had struck the arm of John Lundstram arm before Butland made a great save from Matty Kennedy’s close-range strike early in the second half, which proved pivotal.

Two goals in four minutes – a trademark free-kick from Rangers captain James Tavernier and a Tom Lawrence strike –  made it 11 wins in a row for Rangers to keep them ahead of the Hoops, who demolished Dundee 7-1 at Parkhead.

Butland told Rangers TV that attention turns to Motherwell at Ibrox on Saturday.

He said: “We just keep going. Three points is all that matters at the minute.

“Yes, we’d love to have a clean sheet – penalties is frustrating – but we’re getting the wins and that’s what we need to do.

“Obviously it’s a lot better feeling than it was the last time we came here.

“So we’ll enjoy it, get back to training, recover and look forward to Motherwell at the weekend.

“There’s never any panic, we just remained calm, kept reiterating at half-time why we’re in the position we are in and how we’ve got there.

“And we just continued to do that in the second half, remained calm and in the end we got two brilliant finishes from Tav and Tom and I guess it’s three points that we were after.”

Butland enjoyed his reflex save from Kennedy, diving low to his right to claw the ball away, saying: “It was a huge moment. I think the lad thought he had scored so it’s nice to be able to have that moment. That can sometimes take the wind out of a team’s sails as well.

“It seemed to give us a lift. It could have gone a little bit sideways at that point if that goes in so it was nice to contribute with that and ultimately then set us up for a really big second half.”

It was another huge contribution from set-piece specialist Tavernier, who scored his 20th goal of the season.

“That’s what Tav does,” said Butland. “It’s not easy for someone to step up and take penalties like he does and score goals like he does and especially the free-kicks as well.

“It is something that he works on religiously every day.

“So when you’re a leader like he is, when you play the way he does and when you practice the way he does, those opportunities go in and he earns them and he’s come up with another vital goal for us.”

Philippe Clement claims Rangers were like “Bambi on ice” on the artificial surface at Rugby Park before they held on to top spot in the cinch Premiership with a 2-1 comeback win over Kilmarnock.

On a rain-soaked night, Killie wide-man Danny Armstrong scored from the spot in the 11th minute after a John Lundstram handball.

Gers keeper Jack Butland made a great save from Matty Kennedy early in the second half before a trademark free-kick from Gers captain James Tavernier and a Tom Lawrence strike kept the visitors two points clear of Celtic.

Clement referenced Disney’s animated feature film about Bambi the deer in his post-match analysis.

“Resilience, mentality, solidarity and the quality to adapt,” said Clement, who revealed wide-man Oscar Cortes will be assessed after going off with what looked like a hamstring injury.

“We started the game well with a good set-piece from which we could have scored – but they saved it on the line.

“Had we gone in front it’s a totally different game. But then after 10 minutes you get this penalty against you, which was a frustrating moment.

“You then have an opponent who sits back and waits for your mistakes to make counter attacks and to be dangerous.

“And our tempo was too slow in the first half. We needed some time to adapt because it was a totally different kind of football.

“At moments I felt my players were like Bambi on ice. They had to adapt to that and we spoke about it at half-time.

“After that they were great. We were massive in every sense, the resilience, the tempo, the fighting spirit. This is a major win.”

Clement also believes Rangers should have had a penalty late in the game for a Lewis Mayo hand ball.

He said: “One thing to add, we had a penalty given against us but we could have had an easier last five minutes if we’d also been given a penalty.

“I want to hear the reason why they give the first penalty and the second not. That’s really not clear for me.

“So we go back to the story about handballs. I hope you guys can explain something about that because it was a really weird situation again for me.”

Killie boss Derek McInnes believes individual moments in Rangers’ favour was the difference between the teams.

He said: “Disappointed we never took anything from it.

“But the games comes down to moments. In terms of performance there was nothing between us and Rangers tonight.

“But Jack Butland’s save at 1-0 just confirms how good he is. That’s why he is probably going to the Euros. That was a huge moment for Rangers in the context of the game.

“Tavernier’s free kick at first I thought had gone around the wall and was blaming my goalie and shouting at my goalie coach but the height he got to get it up and over the wall was top class.

“He does that time and time again for Rangers. And for their second goal the ball breaks to Tom Lawrence and it was an unbelievable strike.”

Philippe Clement would welcome an England recall for Rangers goalkeeper Jack Butland but knows Gareth Southgate needs to make that decision.

A Sky Sports report claimed the 30-year-old, who won the last of his nine caps in September 2018, is in contention for the Brazil and Belgium friendlies at Wembley in March ahead of the 2024 European Championships this summer.

Ahead of the cinch Premiership trip to Kilmarnock on Wednesday night – where Gers boss Clement revealed striker Kemar Roofe will not be considered because of the artificial surface – the Belgian said of the Butland report: “I would love that he would be there because he deserves, he is ready in that way.

“If he deserves enough, that is the decision of Southgate of course.

“He (Butland) has been really good for the team although he has had less to do in the last couple of weeks.

“But he keeps the same concentration, the same seriousness and he is important in the dressing room and in training, and he is going to be important in the next couple of weeks and months because we have a lot of games to go and a lot of important games where you need players with personality.”

Derek McInnes’ side have gone unbeaten in seven games in all competitions since losing 3-1 at Ibrox on January 2 and sit in fourth place.

Clement’s team are two points clear of Celtic at the top of the table but he is wary of the Ayrshire side’s form and their artificial surface providing a potential double-whammy to their title challenge.

He said: “It is a difficult challenge and we will approach the game with respect for the opponent but also respect for ourselves, to play our own game although you need to adapt to a totally different kind of football because of the pitch.

“I made the comparison with tennis. Playing at Wimbledon or on a clay court.

“It is a little bit like that, of course a different sport but the ball goes faster (on artificial turf) so you need to be a little bit more precise.

“On a grass pitch when you give a pass it slows down after a while. On artificial, it keeps its speed or goes even faster along the way.

“The ball bounces in a totally different way, also the way of turning, sprinting, stopping – a lot of things that are different but it is what it is.

“It is not easy but we did it before at Livingston and we need to do it again.

“The most important thing is getting three points but it will be a totally different game.

“We are going to go there with full focus but we know it is one of those dangerous moments, it can be a bump on the road.”

Philippe Clement declared Rangers as underdogs for the first time since he became manager after the Light Blues were drawn against Benfica in the last 16 of the Europa League.

The cinch Premiership leaders are scheduled to travel to Portugal for the first leg on March 7 before the return game at Ibrox a week later.

Benfica sit joint-top of the Portuguese Primeira Liga table with rivals Sporting Lisbon, having played a game more.

Clement, who took over the Ibrox hot seat from Michael Beale and who has dragged Rangers from seven points behind Celtic to two points clear of the Hoops at the top of the cinch Premiership ahead of the visit of third-placed Hearts on Saturday, surveyed a difficult but winnable European tie.

“It is a really exciting challenge because it is a very good team,” said the Belgian boss, who confirmed midfielder Todd Cantwell will be out for three to four weeks with a hamstring injury while striker Kemar Roofe returns to the squad after another lengthy spell out with injury.

“I think it will be the first game since I have been here that we have been underdogs in a game. That is the reality.

“I don’t see us as underdogs against Celtic. I see us as two teams at a similar level competing and so that is different to Benfica.

“I saw them last season against my old team Club Brugge and they were very impressive (won 7-1 on aggregate). But it doesn’t mean that we cannot qualify.

“We believe in our qualities and with the mentality that is in this group now, we can beat everybody but we have to be at our top form and we also need to have luck in key moments in the game.

“Of course European nights are important for the club and the stature of the club but you need to be realistic.

“You have to look at your budget, what you spent, the value of your squad and compare that.

“So in that way Benfica are in front of us but there is a really special story developing here and there is a lot of motivation, hunger and desire and with that we can do really amazing things so that is what we are going to try to do in those two games.”

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