Celtic have won the Scottish Premiership for the third consecutive season after a dominant 5-0 win at Kilmarnock on Wednesday. 

Rangers beat Dundee United 5-2 on Tuesday to make Celtic wait an extra day to secure another league title, but the Hoops brushed aside Kilmarnock with little fuss. 

Adam Idah, Daizen Maeda and James Forrest scored in a dominant first half, with Matt O'Riley helping himself to a brace after the interval to cap a memorable display.

Celtic now have an unassailable six-point lead over their Old Firm rivals with one game to play, and they will celebrate their latest crown at home to St Mirren on Saturday.

Data Debrief: Bhoys closing in on rivals

Celtic have won the Scottish title for the 54th time, pulling them within one of rivals Rangers, who have lifted 55. 

They have also finished top of the pile in 12 of the last 13 seasons, their only failure to lift the trophy since 2011 coming when Steven Gerrard's Rangers went unbeaten in 2020-21.

Rangers kept Celtic's Scottish Premiership celebrations on ice after Todd Cantwell and Scott Wright inspired a remarkable turnaround to hammer Dundee 5-2 at Ibrox Stadium on Tuesday.

Philippe Clement's side could not afford to drop points in this clash and seemed set to do so after Jordan McGhee bundled home before Antonio Portales headed past Jack Butland in the first half.

Ross McCausland managed to slice the deficit on the stroke of half-time for the hosts, sliding in to convert from Leon King's cross and teeing up a monumental comeback.

The Ibrox crowd were offered further inspiration to keep the title race alive when Cyriel Dessers glanced in from Cantwell's delivery after 52 minutes.

Former Norwich City midfielder Cantwell's fortuitous cross then dipped over Jon McCracken as Rangers hit the front for the first time, before Wright's pair of late finishes sealed the much-needed three points.

Yet this Rangers salvaging act could still matter for little, with Celtic requiring just a point away to Kilmarnock on Wednesday to seal a third successive top-flight trophy.

Data Debrief: Attacking barrage pays dividends

Clement may apportion this victory to Rangers' unrelenting desire to keep the title race ongoing, blasting 31 shots – and 13 of those on target – at the Dundee target for their 3.34 expected goals (xG) tally.

A plethora of attacking opportunities must be credited to star man Cantwell, who created a game-leading six chances – four more than any other Rangers team-mate.

Rangers came from behind to beat 10-man Kilmarnock 4-1 at Ibrox on Sunday to keep the pressure on Scottish Premiership title rivals Celtic.

After Celtic thumped Hearts 3-0 on Saturday, it looked like the Bhoys' title charge could receive a further boost when James Tavernier put through his own net with 12 minutes gone at Ibrox after Liam Polworth's cross was nudged back across goal by Matty Kennedy.

However, Kilmarnock's Joe Wright was sent off for handling Dujon Sterling's goalbound effort shortly after, and though Tavernier's resulting spot-kick was brilliantly saved by Will Dennis, Rangers did get themselves back on level terms deep into first-half stoppage time as Fabio Silva turned home John Lundstram's cross.

Ben Davies then bundled the hosts into the lead with 62 minutes on the clock after Dennis fumbled Lundstram's long-range effort into the defender's path, before substitute Tom Lawrence extended Rangers' lead with a delightful strike from outside the box.

John Souttar sealed the win in the dying seconds with a close-range header, moving Rangers three points behind Celtic ahead of the crucial Old Firm next Saturday.

Derek McInnes was thrilled after his Kilmarnock side edged closer to securing European football with a confident victory over St Johnstone.

Killie deservedly took the lead midway through the first half when Joe Wright turned home Liam Polworth’s pin-point delivery – and the visitors were denied on multiple occasions to extend their advantage by the heroics of Dimitar Mitov.

The game was settled with nine minutes remaining after Marley Watkins tapped home his 13th goal of the season.

Kilmarnock have extended their advantage in fourth place to eight points, with just five games remaining.

“I thought first half we were very good,” McInnes said.

“Coming away from home, we tried to impose ourselves. We spoke throughout the week about the importance of matching their motivation.

“We knew we were up against a team with so much riding on the game, we had to match that and a bit more.

“I was bemoaning the fact we didn’t get that second goal, which we maybe merited for our first half dominance as an away team – to have that control was really pleasing.

“We never got started in first 20 minutes of the second half but thankfully we got the second.

“It’s not easy winning games in this league, especially away from home – we did a lot right and credit to our players.”

Despite moving one step closer to returning to Europe for the first time since 2019, the Rugby Park boss insists there is still work to do.

Kilmarnock have lost just one of their 11 Premiership encounters since returning from the winter break in January.

He added: “There’s still work to be done and hopefully a few more special days to have.”

Craig Levein felt his team failed to hit the heights of recent performance during a lacklustre showing.

Saints were unable to build on their excellent victory against Hibernian at Easter Road as they slumped to defeat at McDiarmid Park.

St Johnstone remain 10th in the table and look set for a battle to avoid the play-off position in their post-split fixtures.

“The rollercoaster is back in operation. It was a hell of a frustrating afternoon,” Levein said.

“After the last two games I’ve been talking fairly confidently about continuing at that level.

“We didn’t play with the confidence I thought we should’ve done because of our previous performances.

“Individually we didn’t have that many players who played anywhere near their best.

“Kilmarnock didn’t batter us by any stretch of the imagination and we had some good chances.”

Kilmarnock continued their European surge after a comfortable 2-0 victory over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

Joe Wright opened the scoring midway through the first half, and Derek McInnes’ side could have been out of sight had it not been for the heroics of Dimitar Mitov.

The game would be put out of reach with nine minutes remaining when Marley Watkins tapped home his 13th goal of the season.

Killie have moved eight points ahead in fourth spot in the cinch Premiership, while their hosts remain in a battle to avoid the relegation play-off after another poor home showing.

Kyle Vassell took his goal tally for the season to 10 last weekend and he really should have opened the scoring after getting on the end of Danny Armstrong’s cross in the second minute.

The ball dropped nicely at the feet of the striker, but he failed to make a proper connection, resulting in an important block by Dan Phillips.

It took a brilliant challenge by Andy Considine to prevent a potential breakaway after Luke Robinson carelessly surrendered possession to Vassell.

St Johnstone had failed to create anything of note going forward. However, Matt Smith’s wind-assisted cross almost caught out Will Dennis.

Kilmarnock made the breakthrough on 23 minutes, Liam Polworth sent over a tantalising delivery, which Wright stretched to turn beyond Mitov from six yards.

Armstrong went close to doubling the visitors’ lead with a free-kick that narrowly missed its mark, while at the other end, Robinson worked Dennis after a positive forward run.

The chances kept coming for Killie. Watkins was denied by a smart stop from Mitov, before Matty Kennedy’s quickly taken corner struck the face of the crossbar with the Saints keeper still organising his defence.

Mitov was having a busy afternoon and was called into action again when Watkins latched on to Armstrong’s clever through ball.

Craig Levein’s side looked brighter after the restart. David Keltjens sliced over, then Max Kucheriavyi stung the palms of the keeper with a curling strike from the edge of the box.

They were almost punished for their lack of cutting-edge however, as Stuart Findlay struck the side-netting after a rare lapse of concentration by Mitov.

It required a tremendous goal-line clearance to prevent Watkins doubling Killie’s lead with 23 minutes left on the clock.

The loose ball then broke the way of Polworth who fired a goal-bound effort that Mitov brilliantly parried around the post.

There was another scare from the resulting corner for the home side, Liam Donnelly rose highest to connect, but the home keeper produced more heroics to keep the deficit at one.

After surviving an onslaught, Saints almost got back on terms when Dennis somehow pushed Ryan McGowan’s close-range shot on to the post.

With nine minutes remaining, Killie finally got the goal their pressure merited.

A well-worked set-piece routine saw Findlay nod Armstrong’s delivery back across goal – and Watkins was left with the simple task of knocking home from a yard out.

Benjamin Kimpioka tried his luck with an acrobatic attempt that crept over the crossbar, rounding off a disappointing afternoon for the home side.

Derek McInnes was delighted after his side overcame the elements to defeat Ross County and extend their advantage in fourth place.

Kyle Vassell blasted in his 10th goal of the season on 64 minutes to settle a game in which the wind played havoc.

The Rugby Park boss admits it’s an encounter that won’t live long in the memory but insisted his players should savour a crucial three points.

“We knew from the early part of the week that come three o’clock Saturday, we were going to get 60mph winds,” he said.

“It is far from ideal for players to go out and perform, I think it was tough for both sets of players.

“We spoke about the need for concentration, it’s the type of conditions that can make players look silly and you can make mistakes – to get a clean sheet really pleases us.

“I didn’t think there was a lot in the game, I thought we had better control.

“Sometimes these are the best ones, 1-0, getting the job done, playing with a bit of responsibility, real concentration – we weren’t brilliant but we didn’t have to be.

“You don’t really enjoy that type of game but you enjoy the aftermath of it and so we should”

Killie are now in the driving seat for a European place having stretched their lead over St Mirren in fifth to five points.

With defeats for all three teams directly below them in the table, it was a good day for McInnes and his team – something he hopes can become a familiar feeling.

“It has been a good weekend and we could do with a few more like this one to secure that European spot,” he added.

“With six games to go, I still think there’s improvements in us.

“For us to get those improvements, the motivation levels need to stay high and it was high again today.”

Ross County boss Don Cowie felt another lapse in concentration cost his side dearly at Rugby Park.

The Staggies were managing the game well before conceding shortly after the hour-mark.

Vassell’s shot appeared to creep under the grasp of George Wickens and into the net for what proved to be crucial winner.

County are now four points adrift in the relegation play-off position after St Johnstone defeated Hibernian at Easter Road.

“The most frustrating thing was not managing to get something from the game,” Cowie said.

“It was obviously difficult conditions, very testing. Just like the majority of the away games, we managed to stay in the game and be involved in it, then we somehow find a way of conceding a goal.

“That gives the opposition that big lift, we’ve spoken about it in the dressing room, it’s the concentration levels.

“Over the period since I’ve come into the role, I feel like we’ve defended really well in the majority of games, it’s just these wee moments we are switching off.”

Derek McInnes was proud of his Kilmarnock side for securing their place in the top six of the cinch Premiership with two games remaining before the split.

Killie finished 10th last year but are now guaranteed to be competing for a place in Europe in the closing weeks of the campaign after their 1-1 draw away to Hearts took them seven points clear of seventh-placed Hibernian.

The fourth-placed Ayrshire side claimed their point when Marley Watkins’ stunning second-half strike cancelled out Kenneth Vargas’ 10th-minute header for the Jambos.

“I’m very much a happy man, to do it with two games to spare is testament to so much good work within the club, particularly from the players, the staff, the board,” said manager McInnes.

“The club was in a poor place three years ago, we came in just over two years ago as a Championship team and managed to get out at the first attempt.

“This time last year we were still punching, fighting and scrapping to try and make sure we stayed in the league. A lot of changes in the summer and we’ve managed to deliver a top-six finish, which is terrific.”

McInnes was encouraged by the way his side came back strongly after the break at Tynecastle.

“A response was needed at half-time, we passed up a couple of really good chances in the first half,” said McInnes. “But I thought we were terrific in the second half.”

Hearts boss Steven Naismith felt his side lacked sharpness, with several players having been on international duty, but he was pleased that neither Killie nor St Mirren were able to eat into their 11-point advantage in third place.

“After the international break, another game has gone by and the teams below us haven’t gained any ground on us,” he said. “That’s a positive.

“On the back of a defeat (at Ross County last time out), the biggest thing is that you get some sort of points in the next game and we have done that.

“For me, the hardest games to deal with are the ones after the international breaks. It’s really difficult because four or five of our players didn’t get back into training until Friday.

“We started the game well, asked the question and got on the front foot, and then we get the goal at a good time. But then in those wee moments when we did break through, we just didn’t have that sharpness.

“We knew it was going to be a battle and a fight, Kilmarnock are really good at what they do. They are direct and the one time we don’t set up properly they get their goal. It’s a brilliant finish from Marley, who is having a really good season.”

Marley Watkins scored a stunning second-half equaliser as Kilmarnock guaranteed their place in the top six of the cinch Premiership with a 1-1 draw away to Hearts.

The hosts seized the initiative early on when Kenneth Vargas nodded home the opener at the end of a week in which it was confirmed that the Costa Rica forward – initially signed on loan – had agreed a five-year contract with the Tynecastle club.

However, Killie hit back for a point in an entertaining match that could have gone either way.

The result ensured the fourth-placed Ayrshire side – who remain 11 points behind third-placed Hearts – cannot be overtaken by seventh-placed Hibernian before the league splits next month.

Hearts made four changes to the team that started the 2-1 defeat at Ross County prior to the international break as Kye Rowles, Toby Sibbick, Nathaniel Atkinson and Aidan Denholm made way for Frankie Kent, Dexter Lembikisa, Jorge Grant and 18-year-old Macaulay Tait, who was handed his first start.

There was just one alteration to the Kilmarnock side that began the 5-2 home win over St Mirren as right-back Lewis Mayo replaced David Watson.

The visitors had the first notable attempt in the fifth minute when Watkins headed Matty Kennedy’s cross straight at Zander Clark.

Two minutes later the Hearts keeper had to race back to his line and tip over a speculative Liam Polworth effort from close to the half-way line.

From the resulting Killie corner, Vargas burst upfield from the edge of his own box and slipped the ball into the path of Grant, whose stinging strike from 25 yards out was pushed behind by Will Dennis.

The Jambos took the lead in the 10th minute when Vargas nodded in from a couple of yards out after Lawrence Shankland got on the end of Alex Cochrane’s delivery from the left and clipped the ball back into the danger area from the right edge of the six-yard box.

Hearts had a good chance to double their advantage two minutes later but Grant shot tamely at Dennis after being picked out by Shankland cutback.

Killie threatened an equaliser in the 27th minute when Stuart Findlay glanced a header just wide from Kennedy’s free-kick into the box.

At the other end, Shankland tested Dennis with a low strike from edge of the box on the half-hour.

Killie finished the half strongly, with Joe Wright powering a header over the bar before Watkins saw a header brilliantly clawed out by Clark.

Hearts started the second period on top and Vargas went close to a second in the 50th minute when his shot from 20 yards out was pushed behind by Dennis.

But just as the Jambos were starting to look reasonably comfortable, Killie equalised in the 67th minute as Watkins arced a stunning strike high beyond Clark and into the net from just outside the box.

Stephen Robinson believes Kilmarnock’s strike duo ‘bullied’ his St Mirren players during their astonishing second-half collapse at Rugby Park.

The Saints led 2-0 at half-time and they looked comfortable but they were put to the sword after the break by the rampant hosts.

Derek McInnes’ men scored five goals in a crazy 18-minute spell through Kyle Vassell (2), Marley Watkins, Danny Armstrong and David Watson to win 5-2 and move two points above their opponents in the cinch Premiership table.

St Mirren wilted under pressure in the second half and were unable to cope with Kilmarnock strikers Vassell and Watkins, with Robinson labelling the performance ‘unacceptable’.

He said: “I’m shellshocked. It’s very difficult to explain. We were in total control and we were excellent in the first half. We said at half-time that we’d need the same performance in the second half and we started brightly.

“They didn’t change anything at the break, they didn’t make any changes and it was the same shape. I’d love to say that it was a tactical change that caused us problems but it wasn’t.

“We didn’t deal with balls over the top and the front two threw us about – they bullied us.

“As a collective, we didn’t stop their momentum. We tried to slow the game down and prevent them from creating opportunities.

“We need to learn from that and how to deal with the game when the momentum swings the other way because we didn’t.

“It was three goals in five minutes and it was very difficult to get any changes on. I didn’t get the subs on quick enough but we couldn’t as the goals kept going in.

“It was five but it could’ve been more and we must learn lessons from that.

“The experienced boys didn’t manage the game properly and we got punished. To concede five goals is unacceptable and it’s very uncharacteristic for us. We need to look at ourselves as we got punished for our mistakes.”

Meanwhile, Killie boss Derek McInnes heaped praise on Watson after the Kilmarnock starlet added another stunning goal to his growing collection.

McInnes said: “What a goal that was from wee Watson. That’ll be remembered here for a long, long time. He doesn’t score ordinary goals.

“He was playing as an auxiliary right-back today because Brad Lyons and Lewis Mayo couldn’t play. He wasn’t really a right-back out of position but we asked him to nullify Greg Kiltie and he got forward brilliantly.

“It was a great day for the club and we’ve taken a huge step towards securing a top-six finish.”

Derek McInnes hailed the mentality of his Kilmarnock players after their stunning comeback win over St Mirren.

Killie trailed by two goals at the interval but they produced an incredible comeback as they scored five goals in 18 minutes to secure a 5-2 triumph to overtake St Mirren in fourth in the cinch Premiership table.

Captain Kyle Vassell scored twice with Marley Watkins, Danny Armstrong and David Watson all on the scoresheet to leave a visibly delighted McInnes praising the character of his squad.

He said: “When the questions were getting asked of my players today, they met that responsibility brilliantly.

“I’ve got proper men in that changing room and it was a proper grown-up performance.

“We were 2-0 down at home and the fans were getting a bit antsy. It’s easy for my staff and I to point out what’s going wrong but the players stood up.

“I wasn’t surprised that there was an element of a response there and once we got one goal, I felt the second one was coming.

“I was always confident that we had another goal in us but to get five was fantastic. I’m delighted for my front two getting the goals as they led the line well.

“It was such a big game and it felt like a proper game, which is recognition of the season that both clubs are having. We were second best for the first half hour and we never met the threat that they posed.

“We didn’t do stuff that we worked on through the week and there was loads of stuff wrong with us in that opening half hour. Sometimes you need half-time to reset and we scored five goals in 18 minutes – it could have been more.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Robinson believes his St Mirren players were unable to deal with the momentum shift in the second half.

He said: “It was three goals in about five minutes and the ball must’ve only been in play for 90 seconds. “As a group, we have to learn from that and can we slow the game down?

“We knew that we’d need to defend in the second half but we didn’t do that well enough and we had no ownership of the game.

“The momentum kept increasing and we were unable to deal with it. We looked naive today for that spell and that’s something that we need to learn from.

“There won’t be a hangover from that because it’s not something that happens every week.

“You’re not fifth in the table if that’s the norm but know that it’s not acceptable and it’s a wasted opportunity.”

Kilmarnock scored three goals in an incredible seven-minute spell to complete a breathtaking 5-2 comeback win over St Mirren at Rugby Park.

More than 2,000 away fans travelled through to Ayrshire and they were singing about playing in the Europa League at half-time as they led 2-0 courtesy of goals from Charles Dunne and Michael Mandron.

The hosts were miles off the pace in the first half but they were unrecognisable after the break as they blew the Saints away to win.

Kyle Vassell got them back into the game on the hour before Danny Armstrong and Marley Watkins completed the comeback with goals in quick succession to leave St Mirren shell-shocked.

The home support were in complete disbelief at Kilmarnock’s barnstorming turnaround and they were sent into dreamland when Vassell scored his second before David Watson added the icing on the cake with a sensational solo effort.

Both sides entered the encounter with realistic European ambitions but the home win moves fourth-placed Kilmarnock two points ahead of their opponents.

In stark contrast to the second-half madness, it was an uneventful opening to the game before Charles Dunne opened the scoring for the visitors in the 20th minute.

Kilmarnock failed to clear Greg Kiltie’s corner and the ball fell invitingly for Dunne to powerfully rifle the ball past Dennis for his first goal in six years.

The hosts struggled to respond but they almost equalised in the 35th minute when Watkins’ looping header from Armstrong’s free-kick was brilliantly tipped over by Zach Hemming.

St Mirren had a strong penalty claim denied in the 38th minute but they were not frustrated for long as they scored from the resulting corner. There was a sense of deja vu as Kiltie’s corner was not dealt with and Mandron bundled home from close range.

Derek McInnes’ message to his players during the interval clearly had an impact as Killie threatened on multiple occasions before captain Vassell scored their first on the hour, wriggling clear of two defenders in the box to prod the ball past Hemming.

Vassell’s goal galvanised Killie and they were back on level terms just four minutes later when referee Ross Hardie awarded them a penalty. Ryan Flynn clumsily barged into Watkins and Armstrong confidently converted.

Killie were rampant and Watkins scored their third goal in a crazy seven-minute spell with a deft header from Armstrong’s cross in the 68th minute.

Vassell doubled the hosts’ advantage five minutes later when he raced onto a long-ball before producing an excellent drilled finish into the bottom corner.

Watson saved the best for last as he embarked on a mazy run before slotting post Hemming in the 79th minute to complete a dream second-half for Kilmarnock.

Derek McInnes revealed that Kilmarnock will appeal against the red card shown to Lewis Mayo during their 2-2 draw at Dundee.

An early own goal by keeper Will Dennis was cancelled out by Killie’s Marley Watkins.

Luke McCowan then netted from the penalty spot for the home side after Mayo was sent off by referee Colin Steven for his challenge on Scott Tiffoney.

Robbie Deas secured a dramatic draw for Kilmarnock in stoppage time but McInnes was still raging over Mayo’s sending off.

The Rugby Park boss said: “I will appeal (against the decision). Mayo can play against Aberdeen in the cup because it is a different competition.

“He will be suspended for the St Mirren game so we will be appealing it.

“We had to dig ourselves out of a hole after a refereeing decision. I went in to see him. There is no infringement in the box, if there is a foul?

“It’s a bit untidy because Mayo has his eyes on the ball, it bounces and he gets himself in a bad position, but at no time does he pull Scott Tiffoney down.

“Tiffoney falls down and it doesn’t look great. I can’t understand why Greg Aitken and the VAR team haven’t asked the referee to look at it.

“I think if he does, he doesn’t give the penalty and I think it actually makes him think twice as to whether there is a foul there or not.

“If he does get called over and sticks by his decision then we can have a go at the referee. I don’t understand.

“They get involved when they shouldn’t and don’t get involved where they should. I am just scunnered with it.”

Dundee boss Tony Docherty was delighted with the response of his players after their hammering by Celtic last week but he insisted his team should have seen the Killie game out.

He said: “I think the overriding feeling is disappointment.

“We have just had a good discussion as a group. I think the thing I want to emphasise is that we had a difficult night on Wednesday.

“But we won’t be defined by a result like that but what we will be defined by is our reaction to it.

“I thought our reaction today was fantastic but we should have seen the game out.”

Kilmarnock salvaged a last-gasp 2-2 draw against Dundee at Dens in the cinch Premiership.

The hosts took the lead courtesy of an own goal by keeper Will Dennis with the visitors equalising before the break through Marley Watkins.

Kilmarnock’s Lewis Mayo was sent off after conceding a penalty on the hour mark, with Luke McCowan converting the spot-kick, but the Ayrshire men rescued a point deep into added time with Robbie Deas bundling home.

It is the third time the teams have drawn 2-2 against each other in the league this season, with the result seeing Dundee drop out of the top six.

The Dark Blues made six changes from the side that were thrashed 7-1 by Celtic in midweek with keeper Jon McCracken, Aaron Donnelly, Lyall Cameron, Josh Mulligan, Mo Sylla and Scott Tiffoney coming in for Trevor Carson, Ricki Lamie, Jordan McGhee, Finlay Robertson, Malachi Boateng and Amadou Bakayoko.

Killie made just one change from the team that lost narrowly to Rangers on Wednesday night with Deas replacing Stuart Findlay.

Dundee made all the early running and it was no surprise when they took the lead in the 11th minute. Tiffoney cut in from the left and hit a snap shot that cannoned off the post but hit the luckless Dennis and bounced back into the net.

However, Killie stunned the home side when they equalised in the 35th minute. Danny Armstrong swung a cross in from the right with Joe Wright heading the ball down to Watkins who netted from close range for his 10th goal of the season.

After the break, Watkins embarked on a barnstorming solo run from halfway into the Dundee box before hitting a shot with McCracken having to make a vital block to deny the striker.

However, Dundee took the lead again in the 63rd minute. McCowan was bundled over just inside the Killie box by Mayo with referee Colin Steven awarding a penalty and then flashing a red card at the defender.

The official’s decision was rubber-stamped after a VAR check with McCowan stepping up to take the spot-kick, hitting it into the back of the net off the inside of the post.

Dundee came agonisingly close to making it three in the 85th minute but substitute Michael Mellon’s 25-yard shot crashed off the crossbar.

However, Killie rescued a point in the 91st minute when Deas reacted first at a corner to bundle home.

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.”

Rangers maintained their advantage over Celtic at the top of the cinch Premiership but only after a hard-fought 2-1 comeback win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

Killie wide-man Danny Armstrong scored from the spot in the 11th minute of an energetic first half and Derek McInnes’ side were worth their interval lead.

The Gers had to dig deep and captain James Tavernier levelled in the 55th minute with a trademark free-kick before midfielder Tom Lawrence netted with a fine finish just four minutes later as the visitors reasserted themselves.

With 10 league games remaining – five before the split – Philippe Clement’s side are two points ahead of Celtic, who demolished Dundee 7-1 at Parkhead to keep hot on the heels of the Govan men.

The visitors had racked up 10 wins in a row with a 5-0 win over Hearts at the weekend, including a 3-1 win over Killie on January 2, the only defeat for the Ayrshire outfit in their last 14 outings.

Clement had noted the vagaries of the artificial surface and again tinkered with his squad to suit, making three changes with Borna Barisic, Ross McCausland and Fabio Silva coming back in while the home side were unchanged.

Silva had the first effort on goal after five minutes, his close-range shot deflected for a corner from which Rangers defender Connor Goldson’s header was pushed behind by Killie keeper Will Dennis.

Liam Donnelly came close with a header at the other end as Killie responded but moments later John Lundstram blocked an Armstrong cross with his arm and referee David Dickinson pointed to the spot.

Armstrong confidently beat Jack Butland with his penalty and yet another upset was on the cards.

Clement’s men appeared ill at ease as the route-one first-half unfolded further and Kilmarnock continued chasing and harrying.

There was some controversy in the 40th minute when Mohamed Diomande appeared to prevent Liam Polworth from cleanly latching on to his short pass, but Dickinson played on and was not required by VAR to check his pitchside monitor, to the ire of the home players and supporters.

Cyriel Dessers and Ridvan Yilmaz replaced Silva and Barisic for the start of the second half – Dujon Sterling would replace McCausland – but Butland soon had to make a fine one-handed save to prevent Matty Kennedy stroking in a second from six yards out.

Kilmarnock paid for that miss after defender Lewis Mayo fouled Lawrence 25 yards from goal, with Tavernier stepping up to send his curling shot past the diving Dennis.

Rain continued to swirl around the ground as Rangers went for the second, which came when Lawrence pounced on a loose ball at the edge of the box and guided his shot low past Dennis and into the far corner for his first goal of the season, sparking wild scenes of delight in the stand behind the goal which housed the visiting fans, some of whom spilled out.

The game had swung towards the rejuvenated Ibrox men and Dessers hit the bar from a Tavernier corner.

In the 70th minute, Oscar Cortes limped off with what looked like a hamstring problem to be replaced by Scott Wright and the game was still in the balance.

Diomande curled a shot past the far post from 16 yards as play sped from end to end and Dessers got tangled up as he tried to capitalise on a mistake by Killie centre-back Stuart Findlay.

Six minutes were added on but there were no more goals which meant a crucial three points for Rangers, but Celtic’s stunning win over Dundee confirmed there is still plenty left in the title race.

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