Goals from Sasa Papac and Steven Whittaker gave Rangers 2-1 home win over St Mirren and sent them one point clear at the top of the Scottish Premier League, although Celtic have a game in hand. Rangers dominated the opening spell but failed to create much in the way of clear-cut chances and put the Saints defence under any real amount of pressure.
The breakthrough, however, came after 33 minutes and the left-back Papac was the unlikely provider. Kyle Lafferty raced onto a cross from Steven Davis only to see his shot blocked on the line by Paul Gallacher before Papac pounced to convert the rebound from six yards out.
St Mirren were back on level terms within five minutes when Aaron Mooy set up Darren McGregor eight yards out and he volleyed past the Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor.
The home side increased the pressure after the restart and Nikica Jelavic played a major role when Rangers did find the back of the net. The striker slipped the ball through the legs of John Potter before being tripped in the penalty area by the defender.
Whittaker stepped up for the penalty and confidently struck low past Gallacher from 12 yards with 52 minutes played. Jelavic was desperate for a goal of his own and should have done better when he met a cross from the right and headed over from a few yards out.
Rangers could have put the game beyond St Mirren when Maurice Edu released Davis down the right flank before he whipped a cross into the box for Jelavic but he just failed to connect at full stretch.
Saints sought to push forward in search of another equaliser in the final minutes but Walter Smith's team were able to see out the remainder of the match with their slender advantage intact. Rangers will now visit Dundee United on Tuesday as they seek to stretch their lead at the top to four points before Celtic are next in SPL action.