Rangers’ Boss Demands Clarity on Handball Rule After Rare Penalty in 3-1 Win over Kilmarnock

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Rangers manager Philippe Clement last night called for clarification over the current interpretation of the handball rule.

The Ibrox side conceded their first penalty in 75 league games in Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Kilmarnock. John Souttar was penalised for a spot-kick converted by Danny Armstrong — three days after Celtic’s Alistair Johnston escaped punishment for handling during Rangers’ defeat at Parkhead.

Rangers have issued statements calling for audio of the discussions between VAR and the officials at Celtic Park last Saturday, and have criticised the lack of transparency around such deliberations.

Speaking after referee John Beaton was sent to the pitchside monitor by VAR Andrew Dallas to review Killie’s handball claim against Souttar on Tuesday, Clement said: ‘The only downside for me is that I cannot explain to my players anymore what is handball and what is not after this game, if we get a penalty against like this and a goal against like this three days after what happened at Celtic Park.

‘I can’t give them an explanation and that’s difficult as a manager when you cannot give an explanation.

Philippe Clement has called for greater clarity over the handball rule after John Souttar was penalised

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‘It’s not easy. Afterwards, we can laugh and it’s not a big difference, it’s 3-0 or 3-1.

‘Just for the future, it needs to be clear for everybody what is handball and what is not handball, and these two situations … it’s a little bit bizarre.’

Clement praised the resilience of his players after a first Premiership goal for Ross McCausland was followed by a quickfire second from Abdallah Sima before half-time.

The Ayrshire side were granted a lifeline when Armstrong converted the first league penalty awarded against Rangers in almost two years.

Todd Cantwell’s strike three minutes later kept the Ibrox side eight points behind leaders Celtic, with two games in hand, heading into the winter break.

‘They showed resilience, concentration and ambition,’ said Clement (pictured). ‘I see a team who wants to become better. I see a lot of players making this evolution. Now they can switch off.

‘I told them in the dressing room they can switch off for a few days. Of course, they need to do their programme. They cannot let their body do nothing for five or six days and then have a hard training camp, because then you’re at risk of injuries. But, outside of that, they really need to switch off and enjoy their time with their families.’

Rangers head for a week’s warm-weather training in La Manga a week today, buoyed by a comfortable win over a team who beat them on the opening day of the season.

It comes three days after Celtic's Alistair Johnston escaped punishment during the Old Firm derby

It comes three days after Celtic’s Alistair Johnston escaped punishment during the Old Firm derby

‘It was a really good performance against a team I respect a lot,’ added Clement. ‘They’d won three out of the four games against the Old Firm this season.

‘It’s a difficult team to break because they’re really organised with a lot of physicality.

‘We had to be on our toes but we showed a lot of quality with three really good football goals, with good combination play and we could have scored more. A really positive afternoon.’

Fabio Silva was handed the final 20 minutes after arriving on loan from Wolves on the opening day of the window.

‘It was good for him to get his first impression of things and, in that 20 minutes, you didn’t have the feeling it was a player who didn’t know his team-mates,’ said Clement.

‘You need to get a connection with them and you see already he is a player who will suit the way we want to play football.’

Handing fit-again Nico Raskin the final minutes as a reward for his hard work in rehab, Clement expects to be ‘very active’ in the transfer window.

Rangers kept pace with Celtic by defeating Kilmarnock 3-1 thanks to goals from Ross McCausland, Abdallah Sima, and Todd Cantwell

Rangers kept pace with Celtic by defeating Kilmarnock 3-1 thanks to goals from Ross McCausland, Abdallah Sima, and Todd Cantwell

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‘We will see what we can make happen. The things we want,’ he said. ‘We are not going to sign ten players also.’

Kilmarnock boss Derek McInnes hopes to add one more attacking player in January after his injury-hit side lost midfielder Liam Donnelly early in the game.

Livingston striker Bruce Anderson is a potential target for a pre-contract. McInnes admitted: ‘We are running a bit on empty. We have three significant injuries, so we will see how those play out over the next couple of weeks. We’re only looking to try to do one bit of business.’

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