The notion that Rangers would enjoy a routine afternoon did not have any foundation in statistics, both recent and not so. Sometimes, those statistics do not lie. Inverness Caledonian Thistle were the last Scottish team to win at Ibrox, back in March 2009. The Highland side arrived for this game boasting an unbeaten away league record stretching 11 months, and they extended it here with a late equaliser.
Rangers were seeking their own little bit of history by recording what would have been a 10th league win in succession. Not since 1898 have they started a campaign with such a run. Eric Odhiambo's late goal ensured a 112-year record remains intact, the Inverness substitute cancelling out Maurice Edu's opener to maintain his own team's fine start to the season.
A distinctly flat Rangers failed to scale anything like the heights they reached when performing so impressively in their Old Firm victory last Sunday. A vastly improved showing will also be required if even a point is to be gained from Valencia on Tuesday evening. That Champions League encounter, at least, will require the sort of obdurate tactical approach that Walter Smith relishes. Which is the total of the good news the Rangers manager can take after this encounter, with Celtic cutting the defending champions' lead at the SPL summit to a single point.
As is frequently the case from teams in such situations, Rangers only displayed the urgency their support would have expected after Odhiambo's intervention panicked them into a response. Earlier failings were not lost on the Ibrox legions, who demonstrated their anger at full-time.
Edu's afternoon perfectly summed up his Rangers career to date. The US international has shown glimpses of the promise Smith identified when spending in excess of £2m to sign the midfielder from Toronto FC. All too often, though, those flashes have been offset either by poor form or injury.
Edu had actually mis-controlled a Steven Davis pass, but won the break of the ball before sending a fine half-volley beyond Ryan Esson. Moments later, Edu was flattened by the visitors' Richie Foran, a challenge from which he failed to recover, and he was withdrawn at half-time.
The rest of the opening period was instantly forgettable. Inverness had started in a tidy manner, yet without any attacking punch. Smith's belief that Rangers were similarly flat, despite enjoying territorial dominance, was highlighted by the introduction of Steven Naismith and John Fleck from the substitutes' bench.
Inverness believed they were denied a penalty 90 seconds into the second half as David Weir blocked Foran. Terry Butcher's travelling specialists came even closer as Allan McGregor acrobatically tipped a Foran header over the crossbar.
The Rangers response came via Fleck, with a shot smartly saved by Esson, before Kyle Lafferty wastefully shot at the Inverness goalkeeper when his team-mate Kenny Miller was perfectly placed to collect a pass. Lafferty, who can seamlessly flit between brilliant and hopeless, was enduring one of his poorer afternoons.
Odhiambo made Rangers pay eight minutes from time. The former Leicester player slid in to convert a Foran cross, sending Ibrox into mild panic and the visiting contingent into raptures.
Inverness had hardly laid siege to the Rangers goal in search of that equaliser, but the restoration of parity punished the hosts for a blatant lack of urgency. Worse could have come for Smith, had Johnny Hayes not blazed wildly over from a terrific position in front of goal.
Rangers' desperation could not summon a meaningful chance, let alone a winner, which they would scarcely have deserved in any case.
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