Dundee went down to a 3-0 defeat by Rangers in Glasgow as the home side hit top form in new manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s first home league game. Rangers took the lead late in the first half when an unfortunate deflection allowed Joe Aribo’s shot to beat Adam Legzdins. Rangers second came from a Ryan Sweeney own goal 10 minutes after half time, and Alfredo Morelos completed the scoring midway through the second half.
Dundee’s only change from the win over St Johnstone was Christie Elliott coming in to the central midfield to replace Max Anderson who was injured.
Rangers were on the attack from the start and the Dee defence did well to stop them getting through and forcing Adam Legzdins into early action. Dundee had the first shot on target although it was a weak effort from Ryan Sweeney who failed to connect cleanly with Liam Fontaine’s header from a Cammy Kerr long throw and Allan McGregor saved easily.
Fasion Sakala was Rangers’ danger man with his pace and skill on the left. After beating Kerr he finished horribly high and wide. Sakala went closer after Charlie Adam lost the ball uncomfortably close to the Dee penalty area. Alfredo Morelos played Sakala in but his shot flew pastw the far post.
Sakala finally got a shot on target when he found space on the 18 yard line. His rasping, rising shot was heading for the top corner only for Legzdins to pull off a superb save. A minute later Borna Barisic hit a wildly swerving shot from 35 yards. Legzdins did well to keep track of the ball and hold it cleanly.
Dundee were pinned back for most of the first half but managed a few promising attacks that amounted to nothing. Danny Mullen headed over from a Jordan Marshall cross after Luke McCowan had intercepted a loose ball in midfield and that was the final fleeting threat to Rangers’ goal in the first half after 26 minutes.
Legzdins produced another fine save to keep out Connor Goldson’s powerful header from a corner. However, the Dee keeper was out of luck when Rangers took the lead on 36 minutes. Joe ARIBO cut in from the left onto his favoured left foot. His shot from 18 yards was weak and Legzdins had it covered but it struck Liam Fontaine’s boot and flew past the helpless goalie.
Legzdins had to save well again to stop Rangers extending their lead. Scott Arfield sent Morelos clear but Legzdins was out quickly to block. Morelos had another opportunity in first half injury time. Sakala cut infield from the left to set up a good chance for the Colombian striker but the shot was poor and an easy take for Legzdins.
Rangers had occasionally given the ball away carelessly in the first half. They tightened up after the interval and Dundee were not allowed any easy possession.
The pressure from Rangers in the first 10 minutes of the second half was incessant. Dundee were pushed all the way back, forced to defend deep in their own box. At the end of a long spell of frantic attacking with Rangers playing the ball around in the Dee penalty area Scott Arfield shot against the post from close range.
Legzdins was in top form in the Dee goal and pulled out further saves to deny Calvin Bassey from 25 yards and then Morelos from close in.
The second goal after 55 minutes went in off a Dee defender again. Aribo was played into space on the left and his fast, low cross through the goalmouth was inadvertently turned past Legzdins by Sweeney who felt he had to try and play the ball.
Leigh Griffiths came on for Charlie Adam and then Jason Cummings as Dundee tried to find a way to keep play away from their goal. For a while it worked and the Dark Blues were able to do more attacking. However, the only moment of danger to the home goal came when Griffiths won the ball outside Rangers’ penalty area. His pass gave Paul McMullan a half chance, but McGregor turned his low shot round the post.
Twenty minutes from full time Dundee conceded a poor third goal. Sakala’s run to the edge of the penaly area was stopped but when Arfield played the ball back in the Dee defence passed up a couple of chances to clear. MORELOS helped himself and prodded the ball past Legzdins.
Elliott headed off the line from a Morelos header at a corner as Rangers continued to turn the screw. The Dee defence did well to stop Rangers creating clear chances from constant pressure and it was Dundee who came closest to a goal.
McMullan stopped Rangers clearing a a long throw. The ball broke to Griffiths whose shot struck the inside of the post, hit McGregor in the face and somehow ended up on the wrong side of the post.
Dundee never looked like saving this game after falling behind. Today Rangers played their best football of the season and gave the Dark Blues a tough ninety minutes. For much of the game Dundee defended well under extreme pressure, and Adam Legzdins had an excellent match. The Dark Blues struggled to make much of the limited possession they were allowed, but they kept working and fighting till the end.
Rangers were vastly superior to the sloppy team that was fortunate to win at the Kilmac Stadium in September. Not many Premiership teams would have coped with them today. The Dee will have to put this result behind them and make sure they bounce back in the crowded programme to come.
Tavernier (c), Goldson, Bassey, Barisic
Arfield, Kamara (Jack 73)
Hagi (Wright 65), Aribo (Bacuna 83), Sakala
Unused subs: McLaughlin (gk), Lundstram, Patterson, Roofe.
Goals: Aribo (36), Sweeney og (55), Morelos (70).
Booked: Morelos (afters with Griffiths).
Dundee FC 4-2-3-1
Kerr, Fontaine, Sweeney, Marshall
Elliott, Adam (c) (Griffiths 53)
McMullan, McGowan, McCowan
Mullen (Cummings 61)
Unused subs: Lawlor (gk), Jakubiak, Panter, Lamb.
Booked: Mullen (foul on Sakala), Griffiths (foul on Aribo), Marshall (foul on Arfield).
Referee: Alan Muir. Assistants: Dougie Potter, Sean Carr. Fourth Official: Scott Lambie.
Report: James Christie.