Philippe Clement has Rangers plan to boost the goal difference as scoring for fun the key to catching Celtic

Fizzing Philippe Clement has blasted back at Brendan Rodgers as he accused the Celtic of boss of disrespecting his Rangers side.

The big Belgian has been left angered by his Old Firm rival after the Parkhead gaffer claimed Celtic would be looking to have “a bit of fun” when the sides square up for next week’s crucial derby clash. Hitting back at those comments, Clement - who watched his side come from a goal down to beat Kilmarnock 4-1 at Ibrox - raged: “That it is something that I would never say about an opponent. But OK, we will see. It’s not really respectful towards my team. That is what I think. So I will never say things like that about an opponent.”

Gers’ win means they will cross the city trailing their derby foes by three points with three games to play. But they’re also playing catch-up when it comes to goal difference, having missed a string of chances to eat into the Hoops’ superior five-goal advantage. “Frustration is a bad word if you score four goals,” said Clement after seeing Fabio Silva, Ben Davies, Tom Lawrence and John Souttar respond against 10-man Killie after James Tavernier’s first-half OG and penalty miss. Of course you want more goals like any manager.

"But I know also that teams struggle against a team of 10 who are all defending to create these opportunities. So in that way we did a lot of things good and scored good goals. We missed a penalty and it should have been five. Efficiency is never perfect.

“You have maybe one or two games in your career as a manager where every chance is a goal. I didn’t have this moment yet, so I am hoping maybe next week or the next couple of months it will happen once.”

Asked if he’d discussed goal difference with his squad, the Ibrox gaffer said: “I think it is now the moment to speak about that. If we focused on that before these games it was not of big importance because you focus more and more and more on that and first of all it is about getting the three points. It is now for next week to go full for three points and after that we can speak about those things.”

Rangers were relieved to be going in level at half-time after a bonkers first half that included four VAR checks, Tavernier’s OG and penalty miss, a red card for Killie defender Joe Wright and a Fabio Silver equaliser eight minutes into added time. Clement said: “It was a crazy start, but we had a really good start to the game.

“We were fast, we were strong in the duals, we were winning the duals, we were playing forward and creating chances. The VAR thought we should have had a penalty because he asked the referee to the screen. Apparently the referee didn’t agree and it stays a difficult rule for me.

“If I look back at the penalty we get against Kilmarnock here then this one is much more clear. You need to accept that in that moment and go on. Then you have a situation where the first ball in your box is a goal in a really unlucky way. You need to react as a team and the team did that and that’s what we are working on for a long time. Several times they have come back from a difficult situation and we kept on pushing.

“We did that all game long to get the best result and that’s three points against a Kilmarnock team we know and spoke about the stat before the game. Since December 3 they only lost twice in the league and that was against Rangers and nobody else. So to do that three times in a row is a huge achievement.”

Clement has vowed his team will fight to the end to keep their Treble dream alive. But he may have to rejig his defence again at Parkhead after seeing Leon Balogun limp off at half-time, with Davies coming on to net his first Gers goal after five months out.

Clement - who is already missing Connor Goldson - said: “Leon he was injured, that is why I had to replace him. I hope it is a small muscle injury. We will see in the next couple of days. But he struggled too much to continue.

“I am looking forward to next week and to be honest as a manager, I would love that it was tomorrow instead of next week. But that is maybe not so good for my players!

“We are really hungry for that game. Six months ago we were seven points behind and now we are three points behind and we can come equal. The team has already done a lot of steps and now it is about making the next step.”