LEE MCCULLOCH, Jon Daly and Bilel Mohsni were on target as Rangers extended their winning run in League One to 11 games with a gritty performance against Dunfermline.
McCulloch took a nasty head knock early on but in the 68th minute his superbly taken penalty opened the scoring before Daly doubled his side’s advantage eight minutes later with a trademark header.
Josh Falkingham pulled one back for the visitors to set up a nervy finish but Mohsni was there at the death to fire the ball into the net and secure all three points for the league leaders.
For long spells it looked as if this bruising battle would end in frustration for Ally McCoist who could only watch on as Andy Little was stretchered off in the first half with a broken cheekbone and jaw while Richard Foster also hobbled off and had to be replaced before the break.
If anyone was the centre of attention throughout the game it was ref Stevie O’Reilly who sent off Pars forward Jordan Moore for a foul which led to McCulloch’s spot kick and also dished out umpteen yellow cards in the red hot Ibrox atmosphere.
McCoist made three changes to his team with Lewis Macleod, Kyle Hutton and Nicky Clark making way for Little and David Templeton while Ian Black also returned to the starting XI having missed Friday night’s Scottish Cup win over Airdrie due to suspension.
The first half was to be a frustrating one with injuries and fouls halting the flow of the game. On five minutes Moore’s elbow challenge on McCulloch meant the skipper had to go off for treatment and the Pars number 11 was the first player to go into O’Reilly’s notebook albeit he was perhaps lucky not to see red.
McCulloch disappeared up the tunnel for no fewer than 15 minutes and when he returned sporting a bandage the game was still goalless but Little was now on the deck.
Templeton’s delightful cross with the outside of his right boot was dangerous and the Ulsterman collided Pars defender Alex Whittle as he threw himself at the ball. Sadly he was stretchered off and replaced by Nicky Clark.
On 35 minutes the manager had to make his second change with Foster limping off after taking a hefty challenge in the middle of the park and Frenchman Seb Faure went on at right back.
While all this was going on both sides were trying to get their noses in front but they were wasteful in front of goal.
Clark sent a header wide from a Wallace cross and at the other end Dunfermline’s Robert Thomson blasted a shot high into the Copland Stand from 18 yards after he had received the ball in space from Falkingham.
With a minute of the first half remaining Clark had another opportunity to break the deadlock and again it was with his head. Peralta used his electric pace down the right and his chipped cross found the substitute who could only nod the ball past the post.
Once again Rangers were looking for something special in the second period against a Dunfermline side that showed a lot of fighting spirit, perhaps too much at times.
And as the game restarted there was no let-up in their intensity with midfielders Shaun Byrne and Ryan Wallace both picking up early bookings while Peralta, who was becoming increasingly irate at the challenges on him, also shown a yellow card.
With half an hour to go the Rangers players, with the Ibrox faithful behind them, started to show more urgency, all that was missing was a killer pass or a bit of quality to break down the Pars backline.
On 65 minutes Templeton almost provided it. The winger sent in a great cross from the left to the back post but Daly, at full stretch, could not hit the target.
McCoist elected to make his final change with Hutton taking the place on Peralta and on 68 minutes Rangers finally got the breakthrough from the penalty spot.
Moore brought down McCulloch as a corner was played in and Jig dusted himself down before coolly sending Ryan Scully the wrong way for his ninth goal of the season.
On 76 minutes Daly got in on the act as expected given his recent form, sending a looping header over the Pars keeper into the net from a Faure cross but the drama was not over yet.
Falkingham pulled a goal back from close range to give the visiting fans hope but Moshni popped up at the end to smash the ball high into the roof of the net to the delight of the Rangers supporters.
RANGERS (4-1-3-2): Bell; Foster (Faure 35), McCulloch, Mohsni, Wallace; Black; Peralta (Hutton 66), Law, Templeton; Little (Clark 24), Daly
SUBS NOT USED: Simonsen, Macleod, Aird, Crawford
GOALS: McCulloch 68, Daly 76, Mohsni 90
BOOKINGS: Black, Peralta, McCulloch
DUNFERMLINE (4-5-1): Scully; Millen, Geggan, Morris, Whittle; Thomson (Husband 70), Falkingham, Byrne, Geggan; Wallace (Smith 63); Moore
SUBS NOT USED: Goodfellow, Dargo, Martin, Ferguson, Johnstone
GOALS: Falkingham 79
BOOKINGS: Moore, Young, Byrne, Wallace, Millen, Whittle
SENT OFF: Moore
REF: Stevie O’Reilly