Scottish Premiership
LivingstonLivingston0RangersRangers2

Livingston 0-2 Rangers: Steven Gerrard's side remain level at top of table

By Andrew SouthwickBBC Scotland

Rangers remain level on points with Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership after sweeping aside Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

But with Celtic matching the scoreline in their win over Motherwell, Rangers go into the international break second in the table on goal difference.

Joe Aribo - carried off on his previous visit to Livingston - stroked Steven Gerrard's side into a first-half lead.

Alfredo Morelos added a second as the visitors eased to the points.

One sour note for the Glasgow side was Ryan Kent limping off early into the second half.

Livingston have now gone five games without a win since they beat Celtic last month, remaining seventh in the table.

Rangers douse Livi's spark

"It's the Tony Macaroni Arena they're heading to - not Madison Square Garden," Livingston head coach Gary Holt saidexternal-link in relation to remarks from Rangers counterpart Steven Gerrard. The Ibrox manager had appealed for players to be "protected" in West Lothian by referee Nick Walsh.

Whether mind games or genuine concern for his players' welfare, the comments had riled Holt, and lit fireworks under a fixture where so much was at stake for both sides.

Livingston had the top six and a second Old Firm scalp within five weeks in their sights. Rangers' neck-and-neck battle for the title with Celtic meant three points was everything to them.

Every foul, every 50-50 battle, was going to be under the spotlight. The first flashpoint came from Jack McMillan's sliding challenge on Glen Kamara. Blue shirts swarmed the referee, but just a yellow card was flashed.

Then Alfredo Morelos hit the turf inside the box after Jon Guthrie's challenge and gave Walsh another decision to make, but the Livi defender had won the ball.

Yet the early sparks soon fizzled out as Rangers enjoyed the bulk of possession and tested their hosts from distance. Ryan Jack's early shot took a wicked deflection before being tipped over, Kent whistled another one wide after Kamara's reverse pass.

League table

But the deadlock was broken when Scott Arfield ran through the middle unchecked, knocked Morelos' pass into the path of the on-running Aribo who planted it beyond the reach of Majita Sarkic from inside the box.

Sarkic's brilliance denied Rangers a second when he leapt to his right to tip away Kamara's goalbound shot. But he was beaten when Morelos got the advantage of a tight offside call, held off Livi's Hakeem Odoffin, and squeezed his 22nd goal of the season into the far corner.

Livi's chances were fleeting. Lyndon Dykes had a shot blocked just after Aribo's opener, then Steven Lawless fired straight at Allan McGregor following the second.

But as the second half wore on, despite Thursday's Europa League exploits against Porto beginning to take their toll, the home side were unable to get at Rangers.

Jermain Defoe could have squeezed in a third but Sarkic got down low to block, then in bizarre circumstances Borna Barisic's shot bounced under the goalkeeper but hit the post as the visitors finished with a a flurry.

Alfredo Morelos

Man of the match - Connor Goldson

Five weeks ago Dykes had been the main man as Celtic fell to defeat in West Lothian. Early on Livingston tried to go direct and hurt Rangers through the middle.

But Goldson dominated Dykes, barely giving him a sniff of goal, and instead the Livi man cut a frustrated figure as Rangers looked comfortable at the back.

'It was a mountain to climb' - reaction

Livingston manager Gary Holt: "If we kept it at 1-0 we had a chance, but we lose a poor goal. It's happened too easy and it makes it a mountain to climb. We need to get back at it."

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard told Sky Sports: "Celtic are in excellent form, they've had a big week themselves and they're scoring goals heavily and don't seem to be dropping any points so it's important we continue to do what we need to do, keep winning and staying in there."

Line-ups

Livingston

  • 30Sarkic
  • 14OdoffinSubstituted forTaylor-Sinclairat 60'minutesBooked at 81mins
  • 5Lamie
  • 27Guthrie
  • 21McMillanBooked at 20mins
  • 6BartleyBooked at 73mins
  • 11Lawless
  • 16CrawfordSubstituted forJacobsat 70'minutes
  • 8Pittman
  • 33LawsonSubstituted forSoudaat 60'minutes
  • 9Dykes

Substitutes

  • 1Stewart
  • 7Jacobs
  • 10Sibbald
  • 17Robinson
  • 20Souda
  • 22Tiffoney
  • 29Taylor-Sinclair

Rangers

  • 1McGregor
  • 2Tavernier
  • 6Goldson
  • 5Helander
  • 31Barisic
  • 18Kamara
  • 8Jack
  • 17AriboSubstituted forStewartat 87'minutes
  • 37Arfield
  • 20MorelosSubstituted forDefoeat 83'minutes
  • 14KentSubstituted forOjoat 58'minutes

Substitutes

  • 9Defoe
  • 10Davis
  • 11Ojo
  • 13Foderingham
  • 15Flanagan
  • 19Katic
  • 24Stewart
Referee:
Nick Walsh
Attendance:
8,071

Match Stats

Home TeamLivingstonAway TeamRangers
Possession
Home31%
Away69%
Shots
Home5
Away18
Shots on Target
Home1
Away5
Corners
Home1
Away4
Fouls
Home17
Away11

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Livingston 0, Rangers 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Livingston 0, Rangers 2.

  3. Post update

    Foul by Borna Barisic (Rangers).

  4. Post update

    Keaghan Jacobs (Livingston) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  5. Post update

    Borna Barisic (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Aymen Souda (Livingston).

  7. Post update

    Glen Kamara (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Keaghan Jacobs (Livingston).

  9. Post update

    Attempt missed. Borna Barisic (Rangers) right footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Scott Arfield.

  10. Post update

    Attempt missed. Greg Stewart (Rangers) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by James Tavernier.

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Rangers. Greg Stewart replaces Joe Aribo.

  12. Post update

    Attempt missed. James Tavernier (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

  13. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Borna Barisic (Rangers) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Joe Aribo.

  14. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Borna Barisic (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  15. Post update

    Attempt saved. Borna Barisic (Rangers) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Scott Arfield.

  16. Post update

    Attempt missed. Aymen Souda (Livingston) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

  17. Post update

    Offside, Rangers. Scott Arfield tries a through ball, but Jermain Defoe is caught offside.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Rangers. Jermain Defoe replaces Alfredo Morelos.

  19. Post update

    Attempt missed. Connor Goldson (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by James Tavernier with a cross following a set piece situation.

  20. Booking

    Aaron Taylor-Sinclair (Livingston) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic1210113672931
2Rangers1210113572831
3Aberdeen137332015524
4Motherwell137152019122
5Kilmarnock135351215-318
6Ross County133551528-1314
7Livingston133461619-313
8Hibernian122641623-712
9Hearts122551517-211
10Hamilton132561424-1011
11St Johnstone122461228-1610
12St Mirren12228716-98
View full Scottish Premiership table

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