Steven Gerrard hails 'superb' Cedric Itten for his role in win over Kilmarnock which stretched Rangers' lead in the title race

Swiss international striker Cedric Itten was singled out for praise by Rangers manager Steven Gerrard after the 1-0 victory against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park which moved his team nine points clear of Celtic at the top of the Premiership table.

Cedric Itten challenges Stuart Findlay during Rangers' 1-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in the Premiership on Sunday. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
Cedric Itten challenges Stuart Findlay during Rangers' 1-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in the Premiership on Sunday. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

James Tavernier scored the only goal of a hard-fought contest, converting his sixth penalty of the season in the 19th minute and taking his overall goals tally for the campaign to 10.

But it was the contribution of Itten which had Gerrard waxing lyrical. The 23-year-old was making only his third starting appearance for Rangers since his £2.7 million move from St Gallen in August.

Rangers: Get the latest team news, match previews and reports

Rangers: Get the latest team news, match previews and reports

Itten showed both strength and intelligence to provide Gerrard’s men with an alternative outlet throughout the match, helping them to combat the physicality of a Kilmarnock side who had won three of their previous four league games between the teams on their artificial playing surface.

“He was superb - man of the match,” said Gerrard. “This is one of the hardest places to come as a team and for an individual, especially in the forward areas.

“The Killie defenders are physical and can make it uncomfortable for you. Cedric’s hold-up play today - that was a top performance from someone who is big, strong and a threat.

“He has been patient. He’s one we’ve had to treat slightly differently. He’s a young lad coming away from home on his own. He hasn’t had an off season, he hasn’t had a rest yet.

“So I need to find the right time to try and look after him. But he is hungry and a great professional. He’s only going to get better and better.

“That was a big win, a win that we had to work hard for. There were a lot of question marks in the build-up to this game, talk about how we’d failed miserably here before and lost after getting ourselves in front.“Well, we got ourselves in front today and I thought we showed really good resilience and strength and a different side to Rangers today.“I’m extremely proud of the players’ performance and I thought we fully deserved the three points. So we answered those questions today but we’ve got to keep on doing that."

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