Often when Rangers lose a game domestically the story is familiar. One of the opposition picking their moments, riding a fair slice of luck and benefitting from it being ‘one of those days’ in front of goal for the Ibrox outfit.

That argument didn’t hold up in Dingwall. Yesterday was no smash-and-grab. Ross County were more than worth a 3-2 win which swung the title race right back in Celtic’s favour ahead of the Premiership split. Although the visitors took the lead through a Jack Baldwin own goal their failure to build on that advantage proved costly. Rangers, as well as missing chances of their own, had benefitted from County passing up moments before the break. Clement “warned” his team at the interval that the game was far from over but five minutes after the restart Don Cowie's men had gone from a goal down to a goal to the good.

The open-play xG ended 2.31 to 2.63 in the visitors’ favour. Despite this, County’s total is the highest single-game xG total Rangers have conceded in the past six league seasons according to StatsBomb.

Prior to yesterday, the Ibrox side had conceded an average of 0.6xG away from home under Clement's management. The Belgian was not lying when referencing the concession of “strange” goals based on his tenure to date.

Remember, xG is a stat that simply shows the likelihood of a chance turning into a goal. It’s a helpful barometer because it depicts the quality rather than quantity of opportunities.

Overall, including James Tavernier’s late penalty (not depicted in open-play xG totals) the visitors still had enough moments themselves to win this game. 

The deciding time period to highlight in the below trendline comes after the interval. Ross County entered the break behind based on chances created - 1.01 to 1.48xG - but still very much in the fixture. The home side’s four interrupted efforts from 47 to 50 minutes included two goals. Rather than sitting back after equalising they capitalised on their ascendancy following Simon Murray’s equaliser, unlike Rangers in the first half.

The only time Rangers pushed ahead on chances created came at two key junctures. After their opener when Cyriel Dessers failed to convert his side's best chance of the game and when County were 3-1 ahead, with the outcome all but secured.

George Harmon had missed a 0.32 and 0.33xG chance in the first half before wheeling away after converting the game’s third goal, a 0.53xG chance. That was a telling metaphor of the visitors failing to recognise the warnings issued early in the game which Clement had reinforced at half time.

Two factors proved decisive. Firstly, the home side's finishing was ruthless. Their Post-Shot xG (PSxG), a metric which reevaluates the likelihood of a chance turning into a goal once a shot has been taken, came in at 3.17. In contrast, Rangers’ PSxG totalled at 1.43xG. The winners overperformed their xG by 0.86, the visitors underperformed theirs by 1.2xG. Rangers only found the target with six of their 29 shots while Ross County matched that total from a far fewer total of 13 attempts.

What about the goalkeepers? Goals Saved Above Average is a statistic that measures: “How many goals did the keeper save/concede versus expectation (Post-Shot xG faced)? This is representative of how many goals the goalkeeper's saves prevented within a season.”

Ross Laidlaw’s total of 1.43 GSAA reflects Rangers’ outlined PSxG above. Not including the own goal or penalty, the No.1 stopped everything that was thrown at him including the game’s highest-value chance which didn’t result in a goal. Dessers’ one-on-one moment had a 0.51xG value. It was a huge chance to add Rangers’ second and cement the scoreline before the break. 

While Butland let in three goals his 0.17 GSAA total shows that the Englishman wasn’t at fault for the shots that found the net which were, on all three occasions, unopposed finishes from close range.

“We didn't start well in the first half on the ball and in the duels. We had chances but we were not lethal with the chances we had in the first half, a few of which were clear ones,” bemoaned Clement come full-time.

“You come into half time in a good way 1-0 ahead and I warned the players it was not good enough in the first half and I wanted to see more [after the break] and get the clean sheet, but then you concede two goals in five minutes or something like that.

“In the last half hour, I saw the urgency and I wanted to see that 90 minutes long, not 30 minutes long.”

While some momentum was built in the final half hour, how much of this was owing to County eventually choosing to sit back and defend their lead? Over the course of the game, the home side made 25 successful passes or carries into the box compared to Rangers’ 23. All of the home side's ventures into the penalty area came before the 70-minute mark, by which point Clement's men had only breached the box on 12 occasions. 

Rangers had chances but by the time Josh Sims made it 3-1, the underlying numbers were 2.24 to 1.93 in County’s favour. 

Dessers’ first-half opportunity was the away side’s best on the day. The No.9 had four shots with a value of 0.96xG overall, a total only Harmon surpassed with 1.12xG. The difference being that Harmon, unlike Dessers, eventually scored a decisive goal. 

All of the above factors contributed to a potentially devastating blow to Rangers’ title hopes.

An underperforming attack, an overperforming opposition goalkeeper and a defensive performance that routinely handed out high-value chances at a rate not witnessed in one single game for seasons spelled defeat in Dingwall.