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

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Livingston 1-2 Rangers: Two quickfire second-half goals by Scott Arfield and James Tavernier hand Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side victory on the opening day of the season after falling behind just five minutes in

  • Rangers came from behind to beat Livingston in their opening game of season  
  • Jon Nouble gave the home side a shock lead with a lob after just five minutes 
  • Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side dominated and equalised Scott Arfield’s goal
  • James Tavernier struck a superb free-kick after 74 minutes to seal the win

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

Striker Joel Nouble shocked last season’s Europa League finalists 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 Gers pressure grew in intensity into the second half.

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

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But Rangers substitute Scott Arfield levelled with a glancing header in the 72nd minute before skipper Tavernier quickly curled in a free-kick to the relief of the Light Blues support whose nerves were frayed.

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

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

There were competitive debuts for John Souttar, Tom Lawrence, and Antonio Colak for the Gers while goalkeeper Shamal George was making his Livi debut after recently signing from 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 game was paused in the opening minutes by referee Don Robertson to allow some smoke from away fans’ pyrotechnics to clear from the Livingston box.

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

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George sent a long ball up the park, skipper Nicky Devlin headed on and Souttar failed to deal with the danger as Nouble moved behind him to lob McLaughlin from inside the box for his first Lions goal

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

Rangers dominated and got on level through Scott Arfield's header after 72 minutes

Rangers dominated and got on level through Scott Arfield’s header after 72 minutes 

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

Rangers resumed their dominance but the goal would not come.

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

However, Livingston held firm and maintained a threat on the break, with the height and power of Nouble proving a handful.

James Tavernier struck a superb free-kick just two minutes later to seal the win for Rangers

James Tavernier struck a superb free-kick just two minutes later to seal the win for Rangers

Colak had the ball in the net in the 54th minute but was ruled offside before Tillman had a close-range drive saved by George.

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John Lundstram, Tillman, Tavernier and Borna Barisic all had efforts as the Govan men kept pushing before Arfield, who was brought on with James Sands for Souttar and Glen Kamara in the 67th minute, headed in a cross from Ryan Kent.

It was a full turnaround two minutes later when skipper Tavernier curled in a free-kick from just outside the box.

The Light Blue relief was palpable with Livi’s commendable efforts ultimately counting for nothing.

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