The title race is STILL alive! Giovanni van Bronckhorst is convinced Rangers still have a shot at Premiership glory after narrow win over Hearts… with under-fire boss relieved at ‘big points’
- MATCH REPORT: Malik Tilman scores the only goal of the game on tense night
- For Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst it was a vitally important win
- The Dutchman remains convinced that the Premiership title race is still alive
- Celtic are currently seven points clear, having won 13 of their 14 matches so far
Giovanni van Bronckhorst hailed a huge win for Rangers on Wednesday night and insisted any relief about his own position was of secondary importance to keeping the Premiership title race alive.
The intense pressure on the Ibrox manager was eased by Malik Tillman’s second-half goal to sink Hearts, which came after the midfielder learned he had missed out on a place in the USA World Cup squad.
Rangers remain seven points adrift of Celtic, with Van Bronckhorst adamant they are still capable of staging a challenge.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst (right) was relieved at ‘big points’ won under the lights at Ibrox
Malik Tillman’s goal saw Rangers beat Hearts and the Gers boss is convinced the title race is on
Asked if he felt the title race was still on, he said: ‘Of course it is. We have to show that in every game and give everything we have to win the games we play.
‘That is the same for Saturday. We forget about this game, prepare well for St Mirren and try to get the three points.’
While Sunday’s defeat to St Johnstone had placed his job under scrutiny, the Dutchman stressed his mind was on what bouncing back meant to Rangers as a whole.
‘I always speak about the club and the team and less about from the personal side,’ he said.
The Dutchman is under mounting pressure but the relief around the Hearts win was palpable
‘I am really happy for the win first of all for my club and for my team and the players and everyone involved in the club. I always put myself behind the queue, that’s my character. I am happy for myself that we won but only as the last person.
‘It’s big points, especially after the game we lost in the weekend. It’s very pleasing. First of all, for the team and the club to get the three points. I think that’s all that matters at the moment.’
Tillman’s winner was reward for an improved second-half display by Rangers, who upped the intensity to claim victory.
The Bayern Munich loanee had hoped to be part of his country’s plans in Qatar but received disappointing news pre-match.
‘He is a big talent,’ insisted Van Bronckhorst. ‘That’s why we have him here. With young players, their talent is always up and down. That’s normal because of his age.
‘I think he’s doing well. He heard the news that he is not in the World Cup squad and for a young player it is a hard moment to take.
‘That is why I spoke to the team. There are disappointments you have in life and in your career as a player. You have to turn that into a positive to work even harder and that’s what they did. Malik was not the only one. James Sands was not called up, (Antonio) Colak was not called up, (Rabbi) Matondo was not called up, so that is a difficult moment for them. Not for Borna (Barisic) because he did get called up and I am really happy for him.
Rangers’ players were accused of time-wasting by Hearts as they held on to the 1-0 scoreline
‘Mentally you have to be very strong and I thought Malik’s performance was very, very good and of course he was the matchwinner.’
Hearts boss Robbie Neilson accused Rangers of time-wasting as the minutes ticked down, and queried the amount of stoppage time played.
‘I was unhappy with the three minutes (added) at the end,’ he said. ‘When we are holding on for a 1-0 lead, you get seven or eight minutes. When you come here, it is three minutes.
‘There was a lot of time-wasting towards the end of the game by Rangers which is something I have not seen here before, but the referee decided he would just look at the substitutions.’
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