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Philippe Clement praises ‘exceptional’ James Tavernier after breaking record

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 30 Mar 2024

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Philippe Clement hailed the “amazing” achievement of James Tavernier after the Rangers captain broke the British goalscoring record for defenders in the 3-1 win over Hibernian at Ibrox.

Light Blues winger Scott Wright had the ball in the net in the 21st minute after Hibs keeper David Marshall saved a Tavernier penalty but was penalised for encroachment.

However, the 32-year-old Gers full-back, who joined the Light Blues in 2015, made amends by firing in his 22nd goal of the season and his 131st in total, taking him past former Preston, Burnley and Scotland defender Graham Alexander, who scored 130.

In the second minute of added time Myziane Maolida levelled, only for Gers striker Cyriel Dessers to put the Gers back in front with a header before the interval.

Substitute Rabbi Matondo drove in a third in the 85th minute to take the Light Blues two points ahead of Celtic at the top of the cinch Premiership.

Clement, who described the victory as “very satisfying”, said: “It’s an amazing achievement, especially as he still has a couple of years to go so he can only make this record bigger and bigger.

“If you speak about the full history of football then you cannot imagine how many good defenders and how many defenders with good attacking qualities who have played the game.

“To be there on top – it’s an amazing achievement and we’re all proud of him. I said it in the dressing room also after the game.

“I don’t too often point out individual players, I don’t like it too much, but I had to do it this time.

“All the players are really proud of him, all the staff and the fans and everybody involved with Rangers. It’s really quite exceptional.”

Tavernier described his achievement as “crazy”.

He said: “If you would have told me when I first jumped into professional football that I would have a chance to become the highest-scoring British defender in history I would not have believed you.

“That is down to all the team-mates I have played with over the years who have helped me through the journey. I will just continue working hard and see how many I can get until I hang my boots up a long way down the line.”

Celtic have the chance to reclaim top spot at Livingston on Sunday before they visit Govan next week.

Clement is confident but does not believe the match is a title decider.

He said: “I’m confident we can win against everybody. Are we at our best now? No. We had all the injuries and some players are not there at their best yet.

“But I also know that we can win that game and we have the quality to do that.

“It’s also not the decisive ending game of the season. We still have eight games to go.”

Hibs boss Nick Montgomery had no complaints about the result.

He said: “I thought in patches we played good football but not good enough today.

“Against quality opposition you have to do the basics well and stop crosses, pick up in the box and block shots at the edge of the box.”

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