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‘Warrior’ Leon Balogun suffers facial injury in Rangers’ win over Livingston

SoccerNews in Scottish Premier League 3 Feb 2024

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Boss Philippe Clement revealed defender Leon Balogun “probably broke something in his face” in Rangers’ 3-0 cinch Premiership win over Livingston which put them in striking distance of leaders Celtic.

The 35-year-old had to be replaced by John Souttar after just 22 minutes at Ibrox after clashing with Livi’s Shaun Donnellan.

Portuguese striker Fabio Silva, who arrived on loan from Wolves last month, opened his Rangers account against the league’s bottom side in the 40th minute before winger Rabbi Matondo added a second in first-half added time.

Gers midfielder Todd Cantwell knocked in a third in the 56th minute as Clement’s side moved three points behind leaders Celtic with a game in hand.

Asked about Balogun after the game, the Belgian said: “Not good and good in a way. It is not good because it is a bad injury, he probably broke something in his face.

“The positive side is he is a warrior and he is somebody with experience who already had things like that in the past.

“He believes he can be back fast with a mask so I hope that is the case. It is the medical staff who need to decide that.”

Rangers’ game in hand is against Ross County on February 14 but Gers fans will be excited about the possibility of going top of the table against Aberdeen at Ibrox on Tuesday might, albeit Celtic, who drew 1-1 with the Dons at Pittodrie earlier in the day, take on Hibernian the following night.

Former Genk, Club Brugge and Monaco boss Clement said: “That is the nice thing to be a fan. I have been a fan also before I was a player.

“That is a totally different life. We know what we need to do our job and that is with complete focus.

“If you start to think about others, you start to lose things yourself. We are not going to fall into that trap as a team.

“I am happy with the team also in that way, I don’t hear any name of another team during the week.

“Everybody is focused on Rangers and not on his ego but on the team. There is a really good team mentality now in that dressing room and I am going to be really tight on that so it stays that way.

“That is the reason we get results. The moment we start to focus on others we can lose that.”

Livingston boss David Martindale claimed Celtic dropping two points before the kick-off at Ibrox gave everyone in Light Blue a boost, although he thought Silva’s goal should have been chopped off for Connor Goldson’s challenge on Livi debutant David Carson inside the box following a corner.

VAR checked the incident but referee John Beaton was not called to look at his pitch-side monitor.

Martindale said: “When I saw the Aberdeen result come through I was a wee bit worried if I am honest.

“It probably gave the Rangers players and the crowd real energy because now it (title) is in Rangers’ hands.

“You are coming to Ibrox and it is already a difficult game but with that fresh impetus knowing the title is in their hands, that was in the back of my mind.

“But I am genuinely amazed that VAR allowed that goal to stand.

“It’s not sour grapes because Rangers deserved to get three points from the game but Goldson’s foot is head height with Carson, he catches Carson on the way down.

“Carson can’t attack the ball the way he would because he can see the foot coming in, he is a wee bit apprehensive.

“I am astounded the goal stands. Up until that point, I thought our game plan, structure, rigidity, when to press, when to drop, was very good and the goal gives the players and crowd real energy and we conceded a sloppy second.”

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