Gerrard relieved as late heroics go Rangers' way this time
Kilmarnock 1 Rangers 2
Steven Gerrard admits he was relieved to see the last-gasp luck go in Rangers' favour for once as they avoided an opening day slip-up against Kilmarnock.
Gerrard claimed this week his side would have walked away with the Ladbrokes Premiership title last term had games lasted only 86 minutes after seeing his side slip up late against Aberdeen, Motherwell, Hibernian, Celtic and yesterday's opponents.
But he was relieved to see his team keep their focus for the regulation 90 at Rugby Park as Connor Goldson pounced in the final seconds to snatch the points with a 2-1 win.
Scott Arfield had prodded the Light Blues ahead early but in a repeat of last season's struggles, they paid the price for failing to build on their lead and were pegged back by Stephen O'Donnell's strike with just eight minutes left.
But Gerrard was glad to see his side prevail in the end as Goldson crashed home a dramatic header.
He said: "We did concede too many goals in the final stages of games (last season).
"I remember in the first couple of away fixtures we lost one late on at Aberdeen and then conceded a late set-piece at Motherwell.
"I understand that happens from time to time but if it happens too often you need to learn from it.
"This time it has gone our way and I'm pleased with the outcome. I thought it would have been cruel if we hadn't come away with maximum points.
"Kilmarnock took 10 points from us last season so it was important to come here and win, whatever way we did it.
"Sometimes you have to show a different side. Sometimes it is not all pretty and nice. Sometimes you just have to get over the line and win ugly and Connor has come big for us at the end."
It was especially crucial for Rangers to start off with a win after champions Celtic threw down the gauntlet with their 7-0 hammering of St Johnstone on Saturday.
But Gerrard said: "It is too early to talk about titles. We are 90 minutes into a season.
"I understand people are going to ask questions and talk about us an awful lot.
"For me, we just focus from game to game. We want to fight as hard as we can all the way to the end.
"It certainly helps when you start well. This is the start I was looking for."
The result heaps fresh pain on Killie boss Angelo Alessio following their Europa League disaster against Welsh minnows Connah's Quay Nomads.
But the Italian was delighted with his players' display.
He said: "It was a great shame at the end of the game. We deserved a better result because we played very well in the second half.
"I asked the team to press more than they did in the first half but it's still important to analyse the defeat as we lost two goals from two corners and we can't afford that.
"We've improved. We worked hard every day for this and it wasn't an easy game as Rangers have good, technical players. We played well but, of course, there are areas we still have to improve, but now we prepare for Hamilton."
KILMARNOCK: Branescu, O'Donnell, Broadfoot, Findlay, Taylor, Power, Dicker, El Makrini (Kiltie, 70 mins), Burke, Brophy, McKenzie (Bruce, 90 mins). Unused subs: MacDonald, Wilson, Millen, Thomas, Cameron.
Rangers: Foderingham, Tavernier, Goldson, Katic, Barisic, Davis (Edmundson, 90 mins), Jack, Aribo, Ojo (Jones, 78 mins), Arfield (Stewart, 88 mins), Morelos. Unused subs: Defoe, Firth, Halliday, Kamara.
Man of the match: Goldson
Match rating: 7/10
Referee: William Collum (Scotland)