Assured Rangers brush St Johnstone aside
Gerrard’s side move up to second in Scottish Premiership
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard shakes hands with Scott Arfield after the match at Ibrox. Photograph: Ian Rutherford/PA Wire.
Rangers 5 St Johnstone 1
Rangers gave another demonstration of their growing confidence as they swept St Johnstone aside at Ibrox.
Steven Gerrard had to urge his players to believe in themselves as they claimed an impressive Europa League draw with Villarreal on Thursday night.
But there were not a hint of doubt in their play on Sunday as James Tavernier, Alfredo Morelos, Scott Arfield, Kyle Lafferty and Daniel Candeias fired the goals which propel the Light Blues up to second spot in the Scottish Premiership.
Blair Alston tucked home a late penalty but it was scant consolation on a painful day for Saints, who remain in eighth place.
News of Celtic’s last-gasp defeat at Kilmarnock ensured Ibrox was pumped up for kick-off.
And it did not take long for Gerrard’s men to make a successful take-off as they opened the scoring nine minutes in.
Joe Shaughnessy’s trip on Tavernier handed Rangers a free-kick on the edge of the box and the Ibrox skipper made the Irishman pay as he whipped the ball past the wall to leave Zander Clark no chance.
Foster then kicked a Lassana Coulibaly header off the line before the former Ibrox defender earned himself a booking for a crude hack on Kent. From the set-piece, Tavernier came close to repeating his earlier trick as he crashed the ball against the crossbar.
But the second did arrive 11 minutes before the interval. Morelos picked up possession wide on the right but after exchanging passes with Tavernier looked to be heading down a blind alley as Scott Tanser guided him towards the byline.
With a shake of the hips, however, the Colombian fooled the Saints left-back into lunging at fresh air as he then cut back onto his left to smash past Clark.
And it was game over on 52 minutes as Gers wrapped up victory. Morelos sparked a rapid attack with a clever flick to escape Shaughnessy’s attentions.
Kent met his cut-back but saw his powerful strike rattle the bar. Arfield latched onto the rebound in a flash and kept his shot low as he rifled home the third.
Clark did well to keep the score down as he turned away efforts from Kent and Arfield but there was no stopping Lafferty’s goal as he climbed off the bench to sweep home from a flowing counter-attack on 74 minutes.
Alston earned his side a spot-kick three minutes later as he was tripped by Connor Goldson.
He made no mistake from the spot but the deficit was soon back at four as Candeias grabbed number five in the 79th minute, taking his time to finish off after being teed up by Arfield.