Rangers extended their impressive winning run last night at McDiarmid Park as they cruised to a routine 3-0 win against St Johnstone.
Saturday had provided an acid test of Rangers title credentials when they fought hard to beat a Motherwell side which defended in two lines of five and had a one goal lead to defend after six minutes.
The victory had answered questions on Rangers’ ability to deal with the pressure that comes with a title winning run, but tonight’s proceedings proved to be a much more comfortable affair as Rangers secured the three points without any fuss.
The victory was vital as Rangers head into a crucial part of the campaign. Hibs head to Ibrox on Saturday, then it’s a return to Paisley to face St Mirren before the end of the month and year. January provides no let-up with a home game against Celtic and away trips to Easter Rd, Pittodrie and Fir Park.
Rangers were still without Ryan Jack, however the midfielder may be available for selection for Saturday. Alfredo Morelos started on the bench after returning to the squad after his two match suspension. Scott Arfield and Jermain Defoe surrendered their starting berths to Joe Aribo and Ianis Hagi as Steven Gerrard made two changes to his starting eleven from Saturday.
Yet again Rangers started slowly, but it didn’t take too long for them to take the lead thanks to Kemar Roofe on 24 minutes. Glen Kamara picked out Ianis Hagi on the edge of the box. The Romanian international released a shot which Zander Clark failed to hold, allowing Roofe to poke home the rebound from close range.
Rangers extended the lead just five minutes later after a great pass from Joe Aribo put Glen Kamara through, allowing the Finnish internationalist to touch the ball past the onrushing Clark and into the net.
Any remaining doubts about the result were dismissed after only two minutes of the second-half. Joe Aribo was heavily involved again with another great pass sending Roofe through on goal. Roofe unleashed a shot which was blocked, but the rebound landed at the feet of Ianis Hagi who fired home to put the result beyond any doubt.
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The game was all but done and dusted, but there was still time for further action.
Firstly, Allan McGregor made a superb one-handed save from a Stevie May shot after the striker found himself through on goal on the 56th minute.
Then St Johnstone substitute Michael O’Halloran was sent off after two yellow cards for fouls on Alfredo Morelos and Borna Barisic ended his involvement in the game a mere six minutes after coming on for Danny McNamara.
Rangers had further opportunities to extend their lead, most notably a bad miss from Morelos when it seemed easier for the Columbian to score, but they could not add to their goals tally.
Steven Gerrard was delighted with the win saying: "Over the course of the 90 minutes, we were strong, we executed really well and players are either in-form and staying in-form or people are coming into form.
"Joe Aribo is starting to flex his muscles again, Kemar Roofe again showed his predatory instincts and the Buff came on and did really well.
"We get the players recovered tomorrow and then we see our families and we enjoy our Christmas dinner. Christmas night we get back to work. We've got short sharp session on Christmas night. Full focus on Hibs because it's such an important fixture."
ST JOHNSTONE: Clark, Rooney, Gordon, McCart, Booth, Davidson, Bryson, Wotherspoon, Conway, Kane, McNamara.
SUBS: Parish, Craig, McCann, O'Halloran, Hendry, May, Melamed, Ferguson.
RANGERS: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Helander, Barisic, Davis, Kamara, Aribo, Kent, Hagi, Roofe
SUBS: McLaughlin, Bassey, Defoe, Itten, Zungu, Patterson, Morelos, Balogun, Arfield.
REFEREE: Nick Walsh
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