Rangers complete clean sweep with Falkirk victory
Rangers completed a clean sweep of wins in the first quarter of their Ladbrokes Championship campaign with a 3-1 victory over Falkirk at Ibrox.
Returning Dean Shiels opened the scoring from close range in the third minute before Bairns midfielder Will Vaulks levelled in the 17th minute with a stunning long-range strike.
Peter Houston's side defended stoutly for most of the match, but with 10 minutes remaining Gers right-back James Tavernier curled in a 25-yard free-kick for his ninth goal of the season.
Skipper Lee Wallace then scored in injury-time to confirm Rangers' ninth successive league triumph, while ending the visitors' unbeaten run.
It was an afternoon which started well and finished even better for the home side.
There was less than three minutes played when Shiels, in for Gedion Zelalem who was away on international duty with the United States Under-23s, played the ball to striker Martyn Waghorn and took the clever back-heel before knocking the ball past Bairns keeper Danny Rogers.
The goal should have been the cue for the Light Blues to kick on but the visitors worked their way into the match and Vaulks' goal was something to savour.
When Craig Sibbald's corner from the right was knocked out of the Gers box, the 22-year-old Falkirk midfielder returned a shot from 25 yards which screamed its way past keeper Wes Foderingham and followed it up with an equally spectacular celebration which involved a somersault and back flip.
Ibrox was still coming to terms with the quality of the strike when Tavernier drove high over the bar from 14 yards, as Rangers regained the initiative without dominating.
Just after the half-hour mark, left-back Wallace hit the by-line before cutting the ball back for Jason Holt, whose first-time strike was tipped over the bar by Rogers for a corner which came to nothing.
Then Waghorn finished a good run into the box by screwing his shot wide of the target.
The Govan men started the second half in good tempo, with Rogers backpedalling to claw a Waghorn chip out the air.
However, Rangers boss Mark Warburton replaced Nathan Oduwa with veteran striker Kenny Miller just after the hour mark and reshuffled, Rogers making a save from Shiels' angled strike moments later.
Falkirk were breaking only occasionally but in the 67th minute midfielder Tom Taiwo forced Foderingham into a decent save from 25 yards.
At the other end, Waghorn left both Luke Leahy and Vaulks in his wake before hitting the side-netting from 10 yards on the angle, before Nicky Law replaced Holt.
With 10 minutes remaining, and after Falkirk striker John Baird tested Foderingham with a drive, Law was awarded a free-kick 25 yards out after clashing with Taiwo and in trademark style, Tavernier lifted his free-kick over the wall and past the helpless Rogers.
In the frantic last few minutes Miller rounded Rogers after a Rangers break only to have his shot cleared off the line by Bairns midfielder Mark Kerr, but in injury time Wallace hammered in number three from outside the box to confirm the home side had beaten each of their nine league rivals.