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Rangers 4-1 Ross County: Wright, Tavernier, Sakala and Diallo head out for hosts

On the strangest title-deciding nights, there were no outward signs at Ibrox that Rangers had just relinquished their status as Scottish champions.

Supporters were not anxiously glued to their mobile phones to check whether Dundee United were able to get the late winner at Tannadice it took to delay Celtic’s coronation until the final day of the season.

Fans couldn’t express their frustration at the disastrous slump after the winter break by the players of Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who saw a six-point lead turn into a six-point deficit on their fierce foes.

Scott Wright buried the opener up close for Rangers on Wednesday night


Rangers (4-2-3-1): McGregor 7; Tavernier 7, Goldson 7, Bassey 7, Barisic 6 (Balogun 46); Lundstram 7 (Davis 62), Kamara 7; S Wright 7 (Arfield 73), Lowry 8, Kent 7 (Sakala 62); Aribo 6 (Diallo 46).

Subs not used: McLaughlin, Sands, King, Ramsey.

Booked: No.

goals: Wright 13, Tavernier pen 29, Sakala 82, Diallo 90.

Ross County (4-2-3-1: Laidlaw 6; Watson 6, Baldwin 6, Iacovitti 6, Vokins 6; Callachan 5 (White 61), Tillson 6; Spittal 5 (Cancola 61) (Paton 70), Burroughs 6 (Charles-Cook 70); Hungbo 6; Samuel 5.

Subs not used: Munro, Sims, Drysdale, M Wright, MacKinnon.

Booked: Vokins, Watson, Iacovitti.

Goal: White 72.

Referee: Andrew Dallas.

Man of the match: Alex Lowry.

Presence: 48,474.

Instead, a positive party atmosphere settled around the Govan grounds, fueled by the dizzying excitement of what this remarkable campaign could bring for Rangers, as Rangers knocked Ross County aside with minimal fuss in their final home game of the season.

Scott Wright’s early goal and James Tavernier’s penalty put the hosts ahead within 29 minutes. County substitute Jordan White did manage to pull back a goal after halftime, but Rangers struck again twice via Fashion Sakala and Amad Diallo.

The added bonus for Van Bronckhorst at the end of this solid performance is that it looked like his side had no new injury concerns ahead of a season-defining 10 days.

A Europa League final against Eintracht Frankfurt awaits in Seville on Wednesday, May 18, after the pointless final league game of the season at Tynecastle is over on Saturday.

Three days after facing the Bundesliga, Van Bronckhorst’s men face Hearts in Hampden in the Scottish Cup final.

With Celtic adding the title to the League Cup they won in December, there could well be a rare denouement to the season: one that satisfies both halves of Glasgow’s old and acrimonious rift.

Dutchman Van Bronckhorst had made seven changes on Sunday from the side that defeated Dundee United 2-0 here at Ibrox.

Out went Jon McLaughlin, Leon King, James Sands, Steven Davis, Aaron Ramsey, Scott Arfield and Sakala.

Entered Allan McGregor, Calvin Bassey, John Lundstram, Glen Kamara, Alex Lowry, Ryan Kent and Joe Aribo.

That meant that 10 of the 11 players who started with the 3-1 win of the Europa League semi-final against LB Leipzig were in the park from the start against County, the exception being Lowry, instead of Ryan Jack.

Rangers captain James Tavernier added a second from the penalty spot in the 29th minute

Rangers fans were delighted to see the return of Aribo, who remained groggy after taking a full-force free kick to the face against Leipzig.

With Alfredo Morelos out until the end of the season and still no sign that Kemar Roofe is fit, Nigerian international Aribo is likely to be sent off from front position against Frankfurt.

Ross County manager Malky Mackay made four changes after the weekend’s disappointing 1-0 home defeat to Motherwell.

Connor Randall dropped out of the match day roster, while David Cancola, Jordan White and top scorer Regan Charles-Cook all fell to the bench. Entered Keith Watson, Jack Burroughs, Dominic Samuel and Joseph Hungbo.

After dominating the first five minutes, Aribo was the first to threaten the County goal, but saw his shot deflected from 18 yards wide of a corner.

Then the talented Lowry showed his youthful confidence by trying his luck from outside the box, but his shot went wide.

Rangers should have taken a seventh minute lead when Aribo’s dancing feet on the right side of the penalty area saw him slide past Alex Iacovitti.

He singled out the supporting Lundstram who should have burst the net, but he fired straight at Ross Laidlaw.

But it was only a matter of time before Rangers took the lead and the deserved goal came after 13 minutes.

Barisic swung over a corner from the left and Goldson tapped the ball into the six-yard box. The alert Wright was there to guide the ball over the line for 1-0.

Rangers sealed victory with late goals from substitutes Fashion Sakala (above) and Amad Diallo

Rangers sealed victory with late goals from substitutes Fashion Sakala (above) and Amad Diallo

Rangers kept the ball for fun and Goldson was the next to pot-shot the visiting goal. His effort flew over the bar, but the Europa League finalists didn’t have to wait long to extend their lead.

Tavernier exchanged passes with Lowry before entering the penalty area from the right. Iacovitti stopped his progress in the penalty area for a stone wall penalty for Rangers.

Tavernier did his usual clinical work, sending the ball into the right corner for his 18th goal of a remarkable season.

Rangers were in the mood and County just couldn’t get close to the hosts in the first half.

Lowry, who is a wildly exciting young player, isn’t afraid to take a chance and his last shot jabbed County keeper Laidlaw’s palms, but there were no more goals before half-time.

At halftime, the Rangers Women’s team paraded their hard-earned silverware around Ibrox after winning their first-ever SWPL title.

A 0-0 draw with Glasgow City on Sunday in Auchenhowie meant they ended City’s 14-year reign as champions of Scotland.

The Rangers B team then showed the Glasgow Cup which they won 3-1 against Queens Park at Broadwood Stadium on Monday.

If Rangers fans knew that Celtic had just taken the lead at Tannadice via Giorgos Giakoumakis, they didn’t show it.

Instead, the PA system played Belinda Carlisle’s *Heaven is a Place on Earth*, the song Ibrox uses as a paean to Lundstram.

After the break, Barisic and Aribo did not return, while Leon Balogun and Diallo replaced Rangers.

Balogun quickly came within inches of three when his Tavernier header hit the right post.

News of Dylan Levitt’s equalizing goal for Dundee United changed nothing here, but Motherwell’s 2-1 against Hearts meant County could not qualify for Europe unless they won.

White pulled back a goal with a beautifully curled shot high into the Rangers net from outside the box. It was County’s first shot on target.

But after a diving header by Sakala from a Tavernier corner, Amad Diallo completed the score by turning home from the back post.

With a final whistle from Andrew Dallas, the final home game of the season was over and Ibrox stood up to cheer their players on.

With the final league game of the season on Sunday being a dead rubber in Tynecastle, Van Brockhorst is likely to make big changes for the journey along the M8.

The next time Rangers fans see most of these players in action will be at Seville’s Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium, where they try to etch their name indelibly into Ibrox folklore.

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