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Rangers vs St. Johnstone. Scottish Premiership.

Ibrox Stadium.

Rangers 3

  • B Barisic (21st minute)
  • R Kent (47th minute)
  • J Aribo (49th minute)

St. Johnstone 0

    Rangers 3-0 St Johnstone: Steven Gerrard's side go top with easy win

    Highlights and report: Borna Barisic, Ryan Kent and Joe Aribo all score as Rangers make it three wins from three Premiership games without conceding a goal

    Rangers 3-0 St Johnstone 2:15
    Highlights of the Scottish Premiership game between Rangers and St Johnstone

    Rangers moved top of the table on goal difference as they swept St Johnstone aside 3-0 - but it will be the five-point lead they already hold on Celtic that will excite Steven Gerrard.

    With the Hoops grounded by order of the Scottish Government following Boli Bolingoli's unauthorised trip to Spain, Rangers were looking to pile the pressure on Neil Lennon's 10-in-a-row chasers as they welcomed Callum Davidson's Saints to Ibrox.

    Borna Barisic, Ryan Kent and Joe Aribo all scored to hand Gerrard's side a comfortable win as they edged above Hibernian to the Scottish Premiership summit.

    If they can maintain that 100 per cent record against Livingston and Kilmarnock over the next two weekends, then Celtic will walk out at Tannadice a week on Saturday with an 11-point deficit and a looming fixture pile-up to worry about.

    Gerrard named the same team which eased past St Mirren on Sunday while Liam Craig registered his 400th appearance for St Johnstone.

    Borna Barisic gave Rangers an early lead
    Image: Borna Barisic gave Rangers an early lead

    It was the visitors who launched out the blocks, however, as they immediately went to hunt down the hosts.

    Their tenacity almost brought them the opener five minutes in. Alfredo Morelos was short with a pass to Ianis Hagi and St Johnstone were on to it in a flash.

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    David Wotherspoon fed Callum Hendry who twisted Leon Balogun one way, then the other, before drilling a low strike which Jon McLaughlin did well to parry away. But Saints switched off for a moment and paid the price.

    Wotherspoon dived in on Morelos from the wrong side to hand Gers a free-kick 25 yards out on 21 minutes, which Barisic arced over the wall and past Elliot Paris with a trademark sweep of his left foot.

    Even after taking the lead, however, Gerrard's men were still being forced to graft for every half chance.

    Kent, Morelos and James Tavernier all blazed over after being rushed into shooting by Davidson's dogged team. But when they were given a rare pocket of space on the stroke of half-time, Rangers proved clinical.

    Ryan Kent challenges Dan McNamara
    Image: Ryan Kent challenges Dan McNamara

    Aribo found Hagi all alone 30 yards out and for the first time in the game, the Romanian made a contribution worthy of note as he fired the ball wide for Barisic.

    It set up a carbon copy of December's goal at Celtic Park, with the Croatian picking out Kent inside the box who then rifled home.

    Balogun had to be replaced by Filip Helander at the break but the switch made no difference to Rangers as they wrapped up the points within four minutes of the restart.

    Aribo teed up Morelos for a strike which Parish parried wide, but no-one was keeping tabs on the former Charlton playmaker as Tavernier delivered the corner and he glanced home at the near post.

    Gerrard handed Kemar Roofe his debut on the hour mark as he made four changes. Fellow new boy Cedric Itten was also introduced but saw claims for a penalty waved away after being clattered into by Callum Booth.

    5:46
    Falkirk head coach Lee Miller talks about the high-profile cases of coronavirus rules being broken by some Aberdeen players and Celtic's Boli Bolingoli, and also reviews the Scottish Premiership

    Isaac Olaofe should have given Saints some cheer late on but fired his header straight at McLaughlin, while Roofe was denied a maiden goal by Parish's block.

    What the managers said...

    Rangers boss Steven Gerrard: "I thought we got really sloppy at 3-0. We let the game die instead of maintaining our standards. Over the course of the 90 minutes, we turned the ball over too much. So there is still a lot to work on.

    "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. The important thing tonight was to get minuted into Kemar, you can see him picking up some really interesting areas, so it's only a matter of time before he gets fully fit.

    "The best players play, those who contribute and perform at a consistent level. I said to the players tonight: 'While you've got the shirt, do your best to keep it' because there is quality on the bench."

    St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson: "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 are now at Livingston on Sunday at 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports Football, while St Johnstone are at Kilmarnock at 3pm on Saturday.

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