Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack was sent off for a clash with Kirk Broadfoot in a chaotic finale at Ibrox as Chris Burke heaped more pressure on Pedro Caixinha with an injury-time equaliser for Kilmarnock.
Jason Holt’s strike appeared to have earned manager Caixinha a much-needed victory with a 44th-minute strike and Rangers looked destined for the points when Broadfoot gave away a penalty for a barge on Eduardo Herrera just inside the box.
After much debate and delay, Jack was eventually sent off for appearing to kick out at the former Rangers defender. Both players were initially booked but referee Alan Muir then got out the red card after an intervention by the fourth official.
Jamie MacDonald saved the penalty from Daniel Candeias and substitute Burke sealed a 1-1 draw moments later when the former Rangers winger converted Stephen O’Donnell’s low cross at the far post.
Caixinha was removed from the drama after earlier accepting a one-match ban from the Scottish Football Association after being sent to the stand during his side’s Betfred Cup semi-final defeat by Motherwell.
The Portuguese had accused his players of embarrassing the club on Monday, after accepting responsibility for the defeat 24 hours earlier, and demanded a winning reaction.
But Steve Clarke will be the far happier manager after Kilmarnock finished his first match in charge strongly.
Holt was in for Carlos Pena, who missed out with a knee knock, while Ross McCrorie replaced Fabio Cardoso, who suffered a broken nose in a much-publicised challenge by Motherwell striker Ryan Bowman.
Holt and Graham Dorrans were both given licence to get forward from central midfield but the latter was replaced by striker Herrera after an uneventful first quarter to the game. Kilmarnock’s Jordan Jones had the best opening after good skill in the box, but screwed his shot wide.
The visitors had a better chance just before the half-hour mark when Adam Frizzell played in Greg Taylor but Wes Foderingham got down to comfortably hold the midfielder’s effort with his weaker right foot.
Rangers appeared to be stung into life and pushed Killie back. MacDonald made a smart save from Josh Windass and the pressure paid off when James Tavernier got to the bye-line and found Alfredo Morelos, who laid the ball back for Holt to fire high into the net from 14 yards.
Herrera had a great chance after good work from Declan John early in the second half but his flick lacked conviction and MacDonald made a good reaction stop.
The visitors began to dominate as the game entered the final quarter. Foderingham made a decent stop from Kris Boyd before making a better one to touch McKenzie’s 16-yard strike wide after Boyd’s header on. Jones then shot just wide of the far post before Foderingham saved McKenzie’s header.
Killie’s spirited comeback appeared to be over when Muir pointed to the spot, but the drama was only beginning and Rangers’ night was made even worse by the news that Motherwell had leapfrogged them into third place.