Scott McMann’s clear handball allowed Rangers captain James Tavernier to covert a winning penalty
Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst was “happy with the points but not the performance” after his side edged out a Covid-hit Dundee United at Ibrox.
The hosts laboured at times against the depleted visitors, but James Tavernier’s penalty ensured the league leaders extended their advantage.
The victory also stretches Van Bronckhorst’s winning start in the Scottish Premiership to six games.
“Our performance wasn’t the way I wanted it to be,” the Dutchman said.
Speaking to Rangers TV, the Ibrox manager said: “It was a difficult game. We saw a Dundee United team that did everything to give us a challenge. It was a really good performance by them.
“We struggled to create chances. Second half, we created a bit more danger and we had a couple of chances before we scored. Out all the games I’ve coached, I think this was one of the less effective ones.”
It was a hugely impressive effort from Thomas Courts’ men, who had an entire XI of first-team regulars – including the likes of Benjamin Siegrist, Jeando Fuchs, Ian Harkes, Peter Pawlett, Ilmari Niskanen and Marc McNulty – missing for the trip.
Travelling to Ibrox will a full squad would have still been a daunting assignment for United, given the run of form they have endured, coupled with the fact Rangers are unbeaten at home in the league since March 2020.
But, with four teenagers in a depleted starting XI, getting any kind of positive result was bordering on insurmountable for Courts when Alan Muir blew the first whistle.
It wasn’t just in the United line-up there was eye-catching team news, though, as Rangers right-backs Tavernier and Nathan Patterson started together for the first time.
Captain Tavernier began at centre-back, with Patterson in his natural position, but the experiment only lasted a matter of minutes as Tavernier was beaten far too easily by Adrian Sporle in the build-up to an effort on goal from Nicky Clark.
Courts’ youngsters were shining in the Ibrox fog, as 18-year-old Chris Mochrie had a goalbound close-range shot blocked.
Rangers showed fleeting signs of clicking into gear in the first half, with Alfredo…