Colak scores twice as Rangers down Dundee Utd
Last updated on .From the section Scottish Premiership
Antonio Colak scored twice on his 29th birthday as Rangers ended a three-game losing streak with a Scottish Premiership win over Dundee United.
United, still without a league win this season, hit back when a Liam Smith shot got past Allan McGregor.
The visitors pressed in the final stages without testing McGregor again, while Rangers squandered good openings to make it a more comfortable contest.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side stay second, two points behind Celtic - who visit St Mirren on Sunday - while United remain in last place.
There was angry reaction from fans inside Ibrox as a minute's silence prior to kick-off was disrupted.
Having suffered three successive losses to Celtic, Ajax and Napoli, the hosts then made a whirlwind start amid the heightened atmosphere, with Ryan Kent and Scott Arfield wasting great opportunities in front of goal.
However, Colak, reinstated after losing his place up front for the midweek Champions League loss to Napoli, showed how it is done after eight minutes when he drilled in the opener after great work from James Tavernier.
The Rangers captain robbed Ian Harkes deep in his own half and raced down the right before picking the perfect time to lay the ball off at the edge of the penalty area.
United were pinned back for long spells but did manage a glimpse of goal when a shot from Glenn Middleton was kept out by the foot of goalkeeper McGregor.
Colak's second goal arrived early in the second half when he brushed off Charlie Mulgrew to touch in a cross from Borna Barisic.
It looked like game over but the visitors came out of their defensive shell and soon reduced the deficit.
Substitute Sadat Anaku made an instant impact, playing a smart one-two with Tony Watt before finding Jamie McGrath on the edge of the box. McGrath then slipped in the overlapping Smith and the full-back's shot flashed into the net after a touch from goalkeeper McGregor.
United were committing more men forward and the home supporters were growing increasingly frustrated as Rangers failed to restore their two-goal cushion.
Charlie McCann, making his first league start, was guilty of a fresh air swipe and goalkeeper Carljohan Eriksson made saves to thwart Scott Wright and Malik Tillman, with last-ditch clearances twice denying Colak the chance of a hat-trick.
United players were furious that the final whistle sounded just as they had earned a corner.
The visitors did make things uncomfortable for Rangers in the final half hour but couldn't fashion a good chance to find an equaliser. Their appetite for the fight does suggest that the team is heading in the right direction after a miserable start.
Rangers could have been out of sight in the first 10 minutes and had almost complete control of the first half. However, they lost their rhythm as United became more emboldened.
Ryan Jack had an impressive opening 45 minutes, bossing the middle of the park, while Colak's scoring knack proved crucial on a day when the home side had to dig out three points by any means.
What did they say?
Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst: "It's a big win after the difficult weeks we've had. The result today was the most important thing.
"It should have been more comfortable. We started really well and got the early goal. We need to learn to kill games earlier. That's something we need to do better. That cost us at times last season."
Interim Dundee United head coach Liam Fox: "I couldn't have asked for any more from the players in terms of attitude and application and there was some good stuff there, but we lost the game, so my overriding feeling is of disappointment.
"You always fear the worst going 2-0 down at a place like this but the players stood up, showed character, and we pushed right to the end."
After the international break, Rangers resume their league campaign away to Hearts on 1 October (12:30 BST). On the same day, Dundee United begin a sequence of three home matches against St Johnstone (15:00).