Scottish Premiership
RangersRangers3St JohnstoneSt Johnstone0

Rangers moved to the top of the Scottish Premiership with a clinical win over St Johnstone but were accused of being "sloppy" by Steven Gerrard.

The manager was pleased with "three good goals", describing Borna Barisic's free-kick opener as "a piece of magic".

Ryan Kent and Joe Aribo scored either side of the break, but Gerrard said: "We never played like a top team at 3-0 - we let the game fizzle out."

Rangers nevertheless now lead Hibernian on goal difference with a 100% record.

Both go five points clear of reigning champions Celtic and could be 11 ahead by the time Neil Lennon's side are back in action after having two games postponed following Boli Bolingoli's Covid-19 lockdown breach.

St Johnstone started like a side full of confidence and frustrated Rangers with five spread across the back. Not only was the ploy successful, but it gave them a base to probe for openings themselves.

The visitors created the first clear-cut chance as Callum Hendry turned centre-half Leon Balogun inside and out, but the outstretched hand of goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin denied the striker's low drive.

Rangers were struggling to find space but were presented with a chance when David Wotherspoon tripped Alfredo Morelos 18 yards out and Barisic curled the free-kick away from goalkeeper Elliot Parish.

Just when St Johnstone were thinking of regrouping at half-time, Rangers extended their lead, Barisic the provider with a low cross that gave Kent the chance to score on the turn.

Two chances created, two goals and Rangers came out with much more freedom after the break. Morelos had a shot parried wide and Aribo's head supplied the touch at the resulting corner.

On-loan Millwall striker Isaac Olaofe forced a fine save from McLaughlin, but by then the game was already won.

Man of the match - Borna Barisic

Rangers celebrate the opening goal from Borna Barisic (right)
Borna Barisic (right) opened the scoring and set up the second goal

What did we learn?

As with the second half of last season, Rangers are not finding it easy to create chances against packed defences, but this time they are being more ruthless with their finishing.

They have signed two strikers amid fears of losing Morelos, but holding on to Barisic might be just as crucial to their title aspirations. The Croatia full-back's left foot engineered the breakthrough goal, then supplied the pass for the second, and it is no wonder that he too has admirers at other clubs.

St Johnstone looked a bit bedraggled by the end, but they did enough in the first half to suggest that they will again prove to be a difficult side to score against this season.

What did they say?

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard: "You probably think I'm a moaner, but even though we won the game comfortably 3-0, we can still learn a lot collectively and as individuals.

"Tonight was our fourth game in 11 days and I made a lot of subs in the second half, so I'll take my part in the game going flat and sloppy. There are a lot of positives. I'm not complaining, I'm happy."

St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson: "David Wotherspoon gave away a free-kick for the first goal - you can't give away stupid free-kicks at Ibrox. He knows that himself.

"I thought we limited Rangers to very few chances in that first half, but we went in 2-0 down. The message was to not concede early doors in the second half, but we lost a goal to a set-play and the game was over."

What's next?

Rangers head to Livingston on Sunday knowing a win would move them eight clear of Celtic already. Kilmarnock are St Johnstone's hosts a day earlier, with both sides still seeking their first league win.

Line-ups

Rangers

  • 33McLaughlin
  • 2Tavernier
  • 6Goldson
  • 26BalogunSubstituted forHelanderat 45'minutes
  • 31Barisic
  • 8JackSubstituted forRoofeat 61'minutes
  • 18Kamara
  • 7Hagi
  • 17AriboSubstituted forArfieldat 61'minutes
  • 14KentSubstituted forDavisat 61'minutes
  • 20MorelosSubstituted forIttenat 61'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Bassey
  • 5Helander
  • 10Davis
  • 11Itten
  • 13Firth
  • 16Patterson
  • 21Barker
  • 25Roofe
  • 37Arfield

St Johnstone

  • 12Parish
  • 5Kerr
  • 6GordonBooked at 78mins
  • 4McCartBooked at 37mins
  • 15McNamara
  • 18McCann
  • 26CraigSubstituted forRooneyat 63'minutes
  • 24BoothSubstituted forTanserat 76'minutes
  • 7ConwaySubstituted forOlaofeat 63'minutes
  • 10Wotherspoon
  • 22HendrySubstituted forRobertsonat 76'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Duffy
  • 3Tanser
  • 16Olaofe
  • 19Rooney
  • 20Robertson
  • 23Ballantyne
  • 45Sinclair
Referee:
Euan Anderson

Match Stats

Home TeamRangersAway TeamSt Johnstone
Possession
Home75%
Away25%
Shots
Home15
Away4
Shots on Target
Home5
Away2
Corners
Home6
Away2
Fouls
Home10
Away10

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Rangers 3, St. Johnstone 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Rangers 3, St. Johnstone 0.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Ianis Hagi (Rangers) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left.

  4. Post update

    Cedric Itten (Rangers) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Liam Gordon (St. Johnstone).

  6. Post update

    Attempt missed. Borna Barisic (Rangers) right footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Kemar Roofe.

  7. Post update

    Attempt saved. Kemar Roofe (Rangers) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Cedric Itten.

  8. Post update

    Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Filip Helander.

  9. Post update

    Attempt saved. Isaac Olaofe (St. Johnstone) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Dan McNamara with a cross.

  10. Post update

    Hand ball by Borna Barisic (Rangers).

  11. Post update

    Foul by Steven Davis (Rangers).

  12. Post update

    Isaac Olaofe (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  13. Booking

    Liam Gordon (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  14. Post update

    Kemar Roofe (Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Liam Gordon (St. Johnstone).

  16. Substitution

    Substitution, St. Johnstone. John Robertson replaces Callum Hendry.

  17. Substitution

    Substitution, St. Johnstone. Scott Tanser replaces Callum Booth.

  18. Post update

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

  19. Post update

    Foul by Shaun Rooney (St. Johnstone).

  20. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Dan McNamara (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by David Wotherspoon.

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