Davis scored the opener and set up two more goals for Rangers
By Andy Campbell
Scottish Premier League leaders Rangers maintained their 10-point lead over Celtic with a comfortable home win over bottom club Falkirk.
Steven Davis curled home a delightful free-kick to put the home side in front before Scott Arfield and Ryan Flynn missed good chances to level.
John Fleck squeezed home from a tight angle to double the hosts' lead early in the second half.
And Steven Whittaker quickly added a third with a composed finish.
Celtic, who still have a game in hand, had briefly shortened Rangers' advantage with victory over Hamilton earlier in the day but the Ibrox side recovered from a slow start against the Bairns to record a second win in four days.
A long lofted ball into the box by Sasa Papac was headed powerfully towards goal by Danny Wilson, forcing Falkirk goalkeeper Robert Olejnik to tip wide in Rangers' first meaningful attack.
And within moments Rangers were presented with the chance to take the lead after Brian McLean had fouled Kyle Lafferty 20 yards from goal.
Having scored against St Mirren in midweek, Davis was in confident mood and curled delicately into the top corner, with Olejnik unable to get more than a finger-tip to the 18th-minute opener.
The Bairns steadied themselves and should have equalised when Vitor Lima was allowed to drive at the Rangers defence and play in Arfield, the midfielder shooting tamely into the arms of Allan McGregor.
The home defence came under pressure again when Flynn had two headed efforts in quick succession from Jack Compton's inswinging corner but Rangers eventually scrambled clear.
Rangers were determined to extend their lead early in the second half and Lafferty should have done better with a header after being found by Davis' centre.
Nacho Novo had been moved from the left flank to the centre of the Ibrox side's attack after the break and the Spaniard had two chances to score within a matter of seconds.
The forward latched on to a long ball and was primed to blast home when Falkirk captain Darren Barr got across to make a block and Novo then blazed over from Whittaker's cutback.
But the pressure eventually told as Davis raced down the right and squared for Fleck to side-foot into the net off the despairing dive of Olejnik.
And Davis played a part in Rangers' third, finding Whittaker in space before the the full-back meandered into the box and swept into the far corner.
The pace of Novo's replacement Steven Naismith created an opening for Davis, but the swerve on the Northern Ireland international's shot carried it wide.
Steven Smith had earlier come on in place of Papac and came close to getting on the scoresheet after playing a one-two with Davis and belting a shot towards goal, Olejnik diverting the effort out for a corner.
Falkirk pushed for a late consolation but Enoch Showunmi was foiled by David Weir's challenge.
Rangers manager Walter Smith:
"In the first half of the game, we were a little bit slow to start and never really got any consistency in terms of our passing and possession of the ball.
"In the second half we were better, we created far more opportunities.
"It was a terrific free-kick from Steven Davis, he's been doing well for ages for us and if there's a better player in the country just now then I haven't seen him.
"He's been doing really well for us both in central midfield and out in the wider area of the pitch. He's been outstanding, not just this season but since he came to us.
"It was good to see John Fleck getting a goal. It's a big ask of our younger boys to replace Kris Boyd and Kenny Miller. Kyle Lafferty and John are working very hard."
Falkirk manager Eddie May: "It's a difficult venue and we haven't got a result here in the league since 1924 so it's a big ask for any Falkirk team to come here when you look at the history books.
"It was a good free-kick from Steven Davis and he executed it well but we could definitely have done better at the other two goals.
"In terms of playing and moving the ball and trying to create things, it's the best we've done for a while.
"It's not nice coming away from here having been beaten 3-0 but that's probably why they are so many points ahead. They are a good team."
Live text and stats
Saturday, 30 January 2010
05 Papac (Smith 65)
10 Novo (Naismith 63)
27 Lafferty (Little 89)
06 McLean yellow card
11 Flynn (Finnigan 78)
24 Healy yellow card
28 Compton (O'Brien 66)
31 Michael Andrews,
Ref: AllanAtt: 45,907
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
90:00+2:44 The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.
90:00+1:46 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Burton O'Brien, Steven Naismith makes a clearance.
90:00+1:09 Free kick awarded for a foul by David Weir on Carl Finnigan. Free kick crossed by Colin Healy, Allan McGregor makes a save.
90:00+0:24 The ball is swung over by Steven Whittaker.
88:23 Free kick taken by Allan McGregor.
88:23 Substitution Kyle Lafferty leaves the field to be replaced by Andrew Little.
88:23 The referee blows for offside.
87:08 Jackie McNamara delivers the ball, Lee McCulloch makes a clearance.
86:11 The ball is swung over by Steven Naismith, Darren Barr manages to make a clearance.
85:57 Unfair challenge on Steven Naismith by Burton O'Brien results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Kevin Thomson.
85:05 Shot on goal by Carl Finnigan from just inside the area clears the crossbar.
84:35 Kyle Lafferty challenges Jackie McNamara unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Robert Olejnik.
83:50 Inswinging corner taken by John Fleck from the right by-line, clearance by Enoch Showunmi.
83:35 Steven Smith takes a shot. Robert Olejnik makes a save.
81:24 The ball is crossed by Kevin Thomson, clearance made by Jackie McNamara.
79:09 Scott Arfield takes a shot. Save made by Allan McGregor.
78:25 Carl Finnigan crosses the ball, blocked by David Weir.
77:36 Substitution Carl Finnigan replaces Ryan Flynn.
77:27 Steven Davis produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the right of the target.
76:57 Ryan Flynn takes a shot. Blocked by David Weir.
74:51 Centre by John Fleck.
74:18 Shot from just outside the penalty box by Kyle Lafferty misses to the left of the target.
71:53 Jackie McNamara gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on John Fleck. Direct free kick taken by Steven Smith.
70:36 Corner taken by Steven Davis played to the near post, Shot from deep inside the area by David Weir goes over the bar.
70:29 Steven Smith produces a cross, clearance by Scott Arfield.
69:34 Foul by Brian McLean on Kyle Lafferty, free kick awarded. Danny Wilson restarts play with the free kick.
67:32 Inswinging corner taken by Colin Healy.
67:25 The ball is crossed by Scott Arfield, clearance by David Weir.
66:52 Free kick awarded for a foul by Lee McCulloch on Colin Healy. Jackie McNamara takes the free kick.
64:35 Allan McGregor takes the indirect free kick.
64:35 Substitution Burton O'Brien on for Jack Compton.
64:35 Substitution Steven Smith joins the action as a substitute, replacing Sasa Papac.
64:35 Enoch Showunmi is ruled offside.
62:20 Substitution Steven Naismith comes on in place of Nacho Novo.
61:52 Steven Davis provided the assist for the goal.
61:52 GOAL - Steven Whittaker:Rangers 3 - 0 Falkirk Steven Whittaker finds the net with a goal from inside the box low into the middle of the goal. Rangers 3-0 Falkirk.
61:30 Jack Compton takes a shot. Save by Allan McGregor.
61:00 The ball is crossed by John Fleck, clearance made by Darren Barr.
59:51 The ball is delivered by Jack Compton, blocked by Steven Whittaker.
59:08 The ball is sent over by Colin Healy.
58:39 Kyle Lafferty challenges Darren Barr unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Robert Olejnik.
58:18 Enoch Showunmi handles the ball and concedes a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Allan McGregor.
57:44 Sasa Papac challenges Colin Healy unfairly and gives away a free kick. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Darren Barr.
56:22 Steven Davis provided the assist for the goal.
56:22 GOAL - John Fleck:Rangers 2 - 0 Falkirk John Fleck finds the net with a goal from close in low into the middle of the goal. Rangers 2-0 Falkirk.
56:19 The ball is crossed by Steven Davis,
54:16 Steven Davis delivers the ball, clearance made by Jackie McNamara.
53:48 Marc Twaddle delivers the ball, save by Allan McGregor.
53:38 Jack Compton delivers the ball, blocked by Steven Whittaker.
53:29 Jackie McNamara crosses the ball.
52:11 John Fleck crosses the ball, save by Robert Olejnik.
52:02 Steven Whittaker crosses the ball, save by Robert Olejnik.
48:23 Shot by Kyle Lafferty from just outside the area goes over the net.
47:18 Nacho Novo produces a right-footed shot from inside the area that clears the crossbar.
46:06 Booking Colin Healy shown a yellow card.
45:51 A cross is delivered by Steven Davis, Kyle Lafferty has a header from close in and clears the crossbar.
45:42 John Fleck crosses the ball.
45:01 The referee gets the second half underway.
45:00+0:07 The half-time whistle blows.
44:28 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kyle Lafferty by Scott Arfield. Direct free kick taken by Kevin Thomson.
44:03 A cross is delivered by Scott Arfield.
41:52 Colin Healy takes a inswinging corner to the near post, Brian McLean gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Allan
McGregor. Free kick taken by Allan McGregor.
41:39 Ryan Flynn takes a shot. Blocked by Kevin Thomson.
41:08 The ball is delivered by Colin Healy, Sasa Papac gets a block in.
40:19 A cross is delivered by Nacho Novo.
37:19 The referee penalises Steven Whittaker for handball. Free kick crossed left-footed by Jack Compton from left wing, clearance
by Lee McCulloch.
35:40 Long range shot by Kevin Thomson goes wide right of the goal.
32:16 Ryan Flynn delivers the ball, Kyle Lafferty manages to make a clearance.
31:41 Corner taken left-footed by Jack Compton.
31:29 Enoch Showunmi takes a shot. Danny Wilson gets a block in.
28:33 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Nacho Novo by Colin Healy. Kevin Thomson takes the direct free kick.
27:20 Jackie McNamara crosses the ball, Danny Wilson makes a clearance.
27:03 Vitor Lima takes a shot. Steven Davis gets a block in.
26:24 Scott Arfield takes a shot. Save made by Allan McGregor.
25:46 Enoch Showunmi concedes a free kick for a foul on Lee McCulloch. Free kick taken by Danny Wilson.
23:07 The ball is swung over by Sasa Papac, Brian McLean makes a clearance.
21:45 Unfair challenge on Jack Compton by Steven Whittaker results in a free kick. Colin Healy delivers the ball from the free kick
right-footed from left wing.
17:30 GOAL - Steven Davis:Rangers 1 - 0 Falkirk Steven Davis grabs a goal direct from the free kick from just outside the box to the top left corner of the goal. Rangers
16:51 Booking The referee books Brian McLean for unsporting behaviour.
16:43 Brian McLean concedes a free kick for a foul on Kyle Lafferty.
16:30 Steven Davis produces a cross, clearance by Darren Barr.
16:18 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Steven Davis played to the near post, Marc Twaddle manages to make a clearance.
16:04 Sasa Papac sends in a cross, Kyle Lafferty takes a shot. Save by Robert Olejnik.
15:53 The ball is delivered by Steven Davis, clearance by Colin Healy.
15:36 Steven Davis takes a short corner.
15:22 Nacho Novo takes a shot. Blocked by Jackie McNamara.
14:27 Centre by Nacho Novo, Kyle Lafferty takes a shot. Save made by Robert Olejnik.
14:15 Lee McCulloch takes a shot. Brian McLean gets a block in.
13:49 Marc Twaddle concedes a free kick for a foul on Kyle Lafferty. Direct free kick taken by Steven Whittaker.
12:20 Danny Wilson is adjudged to have handled the ball. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Jack Compton from right wing.
11:08 Sasa Papac concedes a free kick for a foul on Ryan Flynn. Robert Olejnik takes the free kick.
10:57 The ball is sent over by Steven Whittaker.
10:36 The ball is delivered by Kyle Lafferty, blocked by Brian McLean.
7:03 Unfair challenge on Jack Compton by Steven Whittaker results in a free kick. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Jack
Compton from left wing, Sasa Papac makes a clearance.
5:51 The ball is sent over by Ryan Flynn, Steven Whittaker makes a clearance.
3:36 Kevin Thomson handles the ball and concedes a free kick. Robert Olejnik restarts play with the free kick.
1:12 Nacho Novo crosses the ball.
0:00 The game begins.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
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