Rangers 5-1 St Johnstone: Steven Gerrard's side climb to second
Rangers ahead of Hibs on goal difference, Hearts lead by five points
By Ron Walker
Last Updated: 23/09/18 6:26pm
Rangers blew away St Johnstone as five different scorers netted in a 5-1 win at Ibrox to take them second in the Scottish Premiership.
The visitors failed to register a shot on target in a first half dominated by the hosts, who had goals to match through a James Tavernier free-kick (9) and Alfredo Morelos' close-range finish (34).
Scott Arfield netted his first goal since joining the club after Ryan Kent had hit the bar (52), and Kyle Lafferty netted with his first touch when he found space on the left (74).
Rangers: McGregor (7), Tavernier (8), Katic (5), Goldson (6), Flanagan (7), Koulibaly (6), McCrorie (7), Arfield (7), Candeias (8), Kent (7), Morelos (8).
Subs: Dorrans (6), Ejaria (6), Lafferty (7).
St Johnstone: Clark (5), Foster (6), Kerr (5), Shaughnessy (6), Tanser (6), Wright (7), Craig (6), Alston (6), Kennedy (7), Wotherspoon (6), Watt (5).
Subs: Nydam (6), Kane (6), Swanson (6).
Man of the match: Daniel Candeias
There was a consolation for St Johnstone when Blair Alston pulled one back from the spot (77), but the four-goal lead was restored within seconds when Daniel Candeias got the goal his play deserved (79).
Rangers assumed their dominance from the off, and the first thing Saints keeper Zander Clark had to do was pick the ball out of the back of his net.
With nine minutes gone Kent and Tavernier stood over a free-kick on the right of the box. Most inside Ibrox were expecting the left-footed Kent to take it, but Tavernier curled the ball over the wall and inside the near post with Clark well beaten.
St Johnstone's attacks were few and far between, and aside from coming close through David Wotherspoon's first-time effort over the bar, they rarely threatened.
Rangers pressed throughout the first half and doubled their lead when Morelos danced past a challenge and fired into the far corner, and they continued their dominance when Arfield after half-time.
Rangers made four changes from their draw at Villarreal. Nikola Katic, Jon Flanagan, Ross McCrorie and Alfredo Morelos replaces Joe Worrall, Borna Barisic, Andy Halliday and Kyle Lafferty.
St Johnstone's team was a lot more straightforward - a straight swap between David McMillan, who was benched, and David Wotherspoon.
The game lost some of its pace, but the hosts grabbed a fourth through Lafferty's first touch when he drove beyond Clark from wide on the left.
There was a brief moment of joy for the St Johnstone fans still remaining at Ibrox when Arfield caught Alston just inside the box for a penalty, and he stepped up to smash the spot-kick down the middle.
But their smiles disappeared two minutes later, when Candeias got a goal of his own, jinking inside Scott Tanser and past Clark before finishing from close range.
Man of the match - Daniel Candeias
He took his time to score, but Candeias was excellent at both ends of the pitch and it was his passing that caught the eye more than his finishing.
He threaded a number of excellent through balls inside the full-back on either side and eventually got a goal for himself to go with it.
Both sides are in Scottish League Cup action in midweek, with Rangers hosting Championship leaders Ayr United and St Johnstone at home to Celtic, both on Wednesday at 7.45pm.