Aribo Shines, Balogun Solid As Rangers Maintain Unbeaten Run

Joe Aribo was on from the start while Leon Balogun was a late second half substitute for Rangers as the Gers mounted pressure on Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership by moving nine points clear after a narrow victory at Kilmarnock.

While Aribo started from the bench and Balogun was in the starting lineup in Rangers’ last game against Lech Poznan in the Europa League, manager Steven Gerrard reversed the sequence as he freshened up his side for the visit to Rugby Park.

Aribo who has been named in Nigeria’s squad to face Sierra Leone in an AFCON qualifying double header next week after missing the Super Eagles’ last two games through injury was impressive in his sixth league start of the season.

The Nigerian midfielder came close to giving Rangers the lead early on but his fierce left-footed strike skimmed just over the bar.

Ross Mullen then handled in the box in the 19th minute from a Borna Barisic free-kick leaving referee Andrew Dallas little option but to point to the spot.

Rangers captain James Tavernier stepped up to convert his sixth spot kick of the season for his 10th goal of the season.

Aribo had another effort deflected away as Rangers dominated the remainder of the first half.

Rangers had a flurry of chances to extend their lead as Connor Goldson, Joe Aribo, Ryan Kent and Cedric Itten all missed from promising positions.

With time running out, Gerrard threw on Balogun as he looked to protect their narrow lead and the Super Eagles defender adequately marshalled the backline to help Rangers seal all three points and keep a sixth successive clean sheet.

Gerrard’s side now have a comfortable lead over title rivals Celtic, albeit having played two games more than Neil Lennon’s side.

Equally as impressive for Rangers are the numbers behind their excellent start to the season with this being their 17th game without a loss while they have now won five straight away from home and have nine wins on the bounce in all competitions.