Rangers striker Kris Boyd levels the score just before half-time
By Keir Murray
Rangers recovered from an early Collin Samuel goal for Saint Johnstone to take all three points and move to the top of the Scottish Premier League.
Saints started the brighter and took the lead when Murray Davidson sent Samuel clear and the Trinidad star slotted beyond Allan McGregor.
Despite Saints controlling the first half, Kris Boyd levelled in 40 minutes, firing past the exposed Alan Main.
The home side had chances to win it but Sasa Papac curled home a late clincher.
With centre-half Madjid Bougherra dropped by Walter Smith for returning late from Algerian international duty, the Rangers rearguard was immediately put under pressure by St Johnstone.
Lee McCulloch was skinned by Samuel in the right-back position and his cross produced a powerful downward header by Martin Hardie which bounced off the turf before crashing off McGregor's right-hand post.
With former Saint Ally McCoist bellowing at his Rangers charges to get a grip on the game, the visitors drew level in 40 minutes.
A shot by Kevin Thomson from outside the box deflected off Lafferty then a St Johnstone defender, allowing Boyd to pounce and slot past Main.
Davidson was presented with the first chance of the second period when Hardie's swooping cross invited a header from six yards, but the midfielder nodded it wide.
McCulloch was yellow carded by Willie Collum for a late challenge on Samuel, then Grainger really ought to have unleashed a shot when he thrust into the box but inexplicably opted to pass.
Samuel is congratulated on his stunning opening goal
As Saints looked the more likely to score, Samuel tormented Papac on the right wing, wrong-footing the Bosnian and sending a low cross into the box where Davidson and Chris Millar lurked.
Davidson, though, rather than set up the advancing Millar, misjudged the weight of pass to set up his team-mate and the danger was cleared.
Rothen had a shot charged down which wormed its way through for Main to save, then Lafferty left two Saints trailing in his wake as he burst into the box but his final ball was wayward.
As both sides increased their attacking options, Walter Smith sent on Steven Naismith for Steven Smith and Rothen was replaced by Nacho Novo, while McInnes put his faith in Filipe Morais for Swankie.
Rangers' second goal was a wonderful strike by Papac in 83 minutes.
Whittaker's deep cross from the right was inch-perfect for Naismith, who nodded the ball into the path of the Bosnian defender, who moved the ball from right foot to left and curled a shot beyond the despairing Main.
It was rough justice for the inventive Perth side, who had further chances through shots from Liam Craig and Morais, both saved by McGregor.
But Rangers held on and will feel relieved to head back to Glasgow with all three points.
St Johnstone manager Derek McInnes: "I felt we had the better chances in the game, we went toe-to-toe with a very good side.
"They are champions, they are used to winning and that is why they keep going.
"We were a bit sloppy at both goals. We played a part in our own downfall. We are learning as we go along, we are progressing.
"These games won't dictate where we finish this season. On today's performance, we should have got something.
"The goals changed the reflection of the game. We're creating chances, we look a real threat. You don't always get what you deserve."
Rangers manager Walter Smith: "We were always going to have to work hard for a win today and St Johnstone made us do that.
"In spells they played well and so did we play well in spells.
"Although St Johnstone had possession of the ball at times, there wasn't that many opportunities for either side.
"It was a good finish for a full-back, getting himself into that position. Last season and this season Sasa Papac has shown he is capable of getting forward.
"That's back-to-back wins for us and that is something we have struggled to do this season and hopefully we can keep it going.
"We're struggling to find consistency of performance but the signs are getting better with each game."
Live text and stats
Saturday, 17 October 2009
07 Millar yellow card
08 Hardie (Craig 81)
19 Swankie (Morais 62)
21 Samuel (Deuchar 81)
26 Smith (Naismith 61)
06 McCulloch yellow card
11 Rothen (Novo 74)
09 Boyd (Miller 81)
Ref: CollumAtt: 7,807
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
90:00+4:07 The final whistle is blown by the referee.
90:00+3:46 Nacho Novo takes a shot. Save by Alan Main.
90:00+0:15 Shot by Filipe Morais from 12 yards. Allan McGregor makes a save.
89:43 Kevin Thomson challenges Jody Morris unfairly and gives away a free kick. Alan Main restarts play with the free kick.
88:17 The assistant referee signals for offside against Graham Gartland. Allan McGregor restarts play with the free kick.
87:33 Steven Whittaker challenges Liam Craig unfairly and gives away a free kick. Filipe Morais restarts play with the free kick.
84:00 Liam Craig takes a shot. Save made by Allan McGregor.
82:51 The assist for the goal came from Steven Naismith.
82:51 GOAL - Sasa Papac:St Johnstone 1 - 2 Rangers Sasa Papac finds the back of the net with a goal from just inside the area to the top left corner of the goal. St Johnstone
82:02 Nacho Novo takes a inswinging corner to the near post, Daniel Grainger makes a clearance.
81:15 Murray Davidson concedes a free kick for a foul on Lee McCulloch. Allan McGregor takes the free kick.
80:27 Substitution Kris Boyd leaves the field to be replaced by Kenny Miller.
80:27 Substitution Liam Craig on for Martin Hardie.
80:27 Substitution (St Johnstone) makes a substitution, with Kenny Deuchar coming on for Collin Samuel.
78:52 Nacho Novo challenges Daniel Grainger unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed by Filipe Morais, Lee McCulloch
manages to make a clearance.
77:41 Collin Samuel takes a shot. Save by Allan McGregor.
76:12 Kris Boyd gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Steven Anderson. Alan Main takes the direct free kick.
75:55 Filipe Morais takes a shot. Allan McGregor makes a save.
73:21 Substitution Nacho Novo replaces Jerome Rothen.
72:23 Inswinging corner taken by Daniel Grainger from the right by-line.
69:54 Filipe Morais takes a inswinging corner.
69:16 David Weir concedes a free kick for a foul on Collin Samuel. Direct free kick taken by David MacKay.
67:01 Kyle Lafferty produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the left-hand upright.
65:45 Collin Samuel gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Kris Boyd. Kevin Thomson takes the free kick.
64:59 Booking Chris Millar is shown a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
62:56 Collin Samuel is caught offside. Free kick taken by Allan McGregor.
61:32 Alan Main takes the indirect free kick.
61:32 Substitution Gavin Swankie leaves the field to be replaced by Filipe Morais.
61:32 The assistant referee flags for offside against Kris Boyd.
60:25 Substitution Steven Naismith joins the action as a substitute, replacing Steven Smith.
60:04 Collin Samuel takes a shot. Allan McGregor makes a save.
59:36 Jerome Rothen takes a shot. Save made by Alan Main.
58:13 Unfair challenge on Jerome Rothen by Murray Davidson results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Lee McCulloch.
55:49 Daniel Grainger takes the direct free kick.
55:49 Booking Lee McCulloch is given a yellow card.
55:41 Lee McCulloch gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Collin Samuel.
54:42 The official flags Kyle Lafferty offside. Steven Anderson takes the indirect free kick.
53:43 Murray Davidson is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Lee McCulloch takes the free kick.
53:25 Header by Murray Davidson from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the goal.
52:24 Kyle Lafferty is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Free kick taken by Graham Gartland.
51:42 Martin Hardie fouled by Kyle Lafferty, the ref awards a free kick. David MacKay restarts play with the free kick.
50:11 Chris Millar has a shot on goal from outside the area which misses right.
45:35 Chris Millar concedes a free kick for a foul on Jerome Rothen. Free kick taken by Allan McGregor.
45:01 The second half kicks off.
45:00+0:10 The players leave the pitch at half time.
43:32 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Daniel Grainger, save by Allan McGregor.
43:12 Unfair challenge on Jody Morris by Kevin Thomson results in a free kick. Jody Morris restarts play with the free kick.
42:39 Collin Samuel produces a left-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the right of the target.
42:08 Kyle Lafferty has a shot on goal from outside the box which misses left.
39:59 GOAL - Kris Boyd:St Johnstone 1 - 1 Rangers Kris Boyd scores a goal from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. St Johnstone 1-1 Rangers.
37:44 Corner taken right-footed by Steven Davis from the left by-line, David Weir takes a shot. Save made by Alan Main.
28:10 Jody Morris takes a shot. Allan McGregor makes a save.
27:33 Murray Davidson fouled by Steven Smith, the ref awards a free kick. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Gavin Swankie,
clearance made by Kyle Lafferty.
26:34 Free kick awarded for a foul by Lee McCulloch on Collin Samuel. Daniel Grainger takes the direct free kick.
24:17 Kyle Lafferty has an effort at goal from 18 yards. Allan McGregor makes a save.
19:15 Daniel Grainger concedes a free kick for a foul on Steven Whittaker. Jerome Rothen produces a strike on goal direct from the
16:20 Martin Hardie provided the assist for the goal.
16:20 GOAL - Collin Samuel:St Johnstone 1 - 0 Rangers Collin Samuel grabs a goal from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. St Johnstone 1-0 Rangers.
12:26 Daniel Grainger challenges Jerome Rothen unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed left-footed by Jerome Rothen,
save by Alan Main.
10:15 Kris Boyd concedes a free kick for a foul on Steven Anderson. Jody Morris takes the free kick.
8:45 The referee blows for offside. Allan McGregor takes the indirect free kick.
8:18 Short corner taken by Gavin Swankie.
7:39 Foul by Kevin Thomson on David MacKay, free kick awarded. Alan Main restarts play with the free kick.
5:58 Steven Smith concedes a free kick for a foul on David MacKay. Gavin Swankie takes the free kick.
4:25 Jerome Rothen takes a shot from just outside the penalty area which clears the crossbar.
2:41 Header from inside the area by Martin Hardie bounces off the post.
0:30 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Collin Samuel by Lee McCulloch. Free kick taken by Daniel Grainger.
0:00 The game begins.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.