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Livingston 1-2 Rangers: Quickfire goals by Scott Arfield and James Tavernier seal win for visitors  

Livingston 1-2 Rangers: Two quick goals in the second half from Scott Arfield and James Tavernier give Giovanni van Bronckhorst the side win on the opening day of the season after only five minutes behind

  • Rangers came from behind to beat Livingston in their opening game of the season
  • Jon Noble gave the home team a shocking lead after just five minutes with a lob
  • Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team dominated and equalized Scott Arfield’s goal
  • James Tavernier hit a stunning free kick in the 74th minute to seal the win

James Tavernier’s sparkling free kick in the second half gave Rangers a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Livingston in their cinch Premiership opener at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

Striker Joel Nouble shocked the Europa League finalists last season when he gave the home side the lead with a fine finish in the fifth minute.

David Martindale’s side resolutely defended their lead as the pressure from the Gers intensified in the second half.

Jon Nouble lobbed Jon McLaughlin after just five minutes to give Livingston a shock lead

Jon Nouble lobbed Jon McLaughlin after just five minutes to give Livingston a shock lead

But Rangers substitute Scott Arfield tied the score with a header in the 72nd minute, after which skipper Tavernier quickly curled up a free kick to the relief of the Light Blues supporter whose nerves were frayed.

Rangers will travel to Belgium on Tuesday with more optimism for the first leg of their Champions League third qualifying duel with Union Saint Gilloise than they would have been had they not grabbed those two crucial goals within two minutes.

It had been a fraught afternoon for Rangers fans who saw Jon McLaughlin favor last season’s number one Allan McGregor.

There were competitive debuts for John Souttar, Tom Lawrence and Antonio Colak for the Gers, while goalkeeper Shamal George made his Livi debut after recently signing with Colchester.

Phillip Cancar (left) and Scott Wright battle for the ball during Saturday's game

Phillip Cancar (left) and Scott Wright battle for the ball during Saturday’s game

The match was paused in the opening minutes by Referee Don Robertson to allow some smoke from the fireworks from the outstanding fans to clear the Livingston box.

However, the enthusiasm of the Gers supporters was soon dampened as the home side took the lead with a route one goal.

George sent a long ball into the park, skipper Nicky Devlin headed up and Souttar failed to contain the danger as Nouble moved behind him to lob McLaughlin from the penalty area for his first Lions goal

The response from Rangers was predictable and frantic as a series of crosses and free kicks into the full penalty area were repelled by a well-organized Livi defence.

Rangers dominated and tied the score after 72 minutes via a header from Scott Arfield

Rangers dominated and tied the score after 72 minutes via a header from Scott Arfield

Livingston should have doubled the lead in the 27th minute when Andrew Shinnie’s searching free kick found Ayo Obiley unmarked, but headed straight into McLaughlin’s arms.

Rangers resumed their dominance, but the goal was not scored.

Malik Tillman, on loan from Bayern Munich, replaced Scott Wright before the start of the second half to make his Gers debut and helped the visitors increase the pressure.

Livingston held on, however, and remained menacing at halftime, with Nouble’s height and strength proving to be a handful.

James Tavernier hit a stunning free kick just two minutes later to seal the win for Rangers

James Tavernier hit a stunning free kick just two minutes later to seal the win for Rangers

Colak had the ball in the net after 54 minutes, but was ruled offside before Tillman saved a drive from close range by George.

John Lundstram, Tillman, Tavernier and Borna Barisic all struggled as Govan’s men continued to push for Arfield, who joined James Sands in the 67th minute for Souttar and Glen Kamara to head in a cross from Ryan Kent.

It was a complete turnaround two minutes later when skipper Tavernier curled in a free kick from just outside the penalty area.

The light blue relief was palpable and Livi’s commendable efforts turned out to be in vain.

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