Ross County vs Rangers. Scottish Premiership.
Global Energy Stadium.
Report as Rangers make it 16 Scottish Premiership games unbeaten - and 25 in all competitions - this season thanks to a 4-0 victory at Ross County; Kemar Roofe, James Tavernier and Jermain Defoe on target for Steven Gerrard's side, along with a Callum Morris own goal
Sunday 6 December 2020 20:32, UK
Rangers maintained their unbeaten run this season after strolling to a 4-0 win at Ross County to further increase their lead over Celtic in the Scottish Premiership.
The visitors led at the break thanks to Kemar Roofe's clever finish (28), before James Tavernier's scrappy effort doubled their advantage 11 minutes after half-time.
A Callum Morris own goal (72) and a strike from substitute Jermain Defoe (90), who scored on his 800th appearance for club and country, saw Steven Gerrard's side move 14 points ahead of Celtic, who do have three games in hand on their rivals, starting with Sunday afternoon's home clash with St Johnstone.
Ross County, meanwhile, stay in trouble in 11th place, one point above bottom-of-the-table St Mirren.
Ross County: Laidlaw (7), Watson (6), Donaldson (6), Morris (5), Iacovitti (5), Reid (6), Paton (7), Tillson (6), Vigurs (5), Gardyne (6), Stewart (6)
Subs: Randall (6), Hylton (6), Charles-Cook (6), Wright (6)
Rangers: McGregor (7), Tavernier (9), Goldson (6), Balogun (6), Bassey (8), Aribo (8), Davis (8), Kamara (6), Roofe (7), Kent (8), Morelos (6)
Subs: Hagi (6), Defoe (7), Itten (7), Zungu (6), Arfield (6)
Man of the match: James Tavernier
The league leaders arrived in the Highlands having qualified for the knockout phase of the Europa League on Thursday night and looking to keep the pressure on the champions ahead of their clash later on Sunday, and that is exactly what they did with another clinical display.
Rangers dominated from start to finish, making a deserved breakthrough just before the half-hour mark after a lovely move involving Steven Davis, whose beautifully weighted ball sent Tavernier clear down the right.
And from the captain's centre, there was Roofe sniffing around in the six-yard box to give the visitors the lead, which they then doubled after 56 minutes, albeit in less convincing style.
Joe Aribo and Ryan Kent combined nicely down the left, before the latter's cross eventually, and rather fortuitously, ended up in the net off Tavernier, not that the right-back knew much about his 16th goal in his last 20 appearances.
Thereafter, it was a stroll for Rangers, who scored again via Morris' own goal as the Ross County defender tried to cut out Tavernier's cross intended for the unmarked Alfredo Morelos, only to inadvertently turn the ball into his own net.
The hosts made two changes, with Jordan Tillson and Michael Gardyne both starting.
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard made two changes from the side that beat Standard Liege 3-2 on Thursday night to qualify for the Europa League knockout stages, with Calvin Bassey and Joe Aribo coming in for Borna Barisic and Scott Arfield.
And the final act of a game played in front 300 fans saw Defoe come off the bench to net a typical poacher's goal from close range, the 38-year-old's 322nd of his illustrious career.
Stuart Kettlewell: I just said to the players that I felt it got away from us significantly just in terms of the fourth goal, which was a really, really poor goal to lose. We know we were up against it and it was going to be a really difficult game, and we were never getting carried away as far as last week's result about the size of this task.
"But from my point of view, it just felt as we gave up some goals a little bit too easy, you see a couple of the goals trundle in, there is an own goal in there, and that is probably a big education for us."
Steven Gerrard: "I judge him [Tavernier] on as soon as he walks through the door, what's he doing? Is he helping me set the standards? Is he professional in everything he does? Is he leading by example? Is he helping the young lads? Is he making sure everyone is at it and the culture remains strong?
"This season he has been absolutely fantastic. I can't be any more proud of him. He just needs to continue doing what he's doing because he's a massive help to me.
"His numbers are top-level stuff. I have played with some fantastic attacking right-backs - Kyle Walker, Glen Johnson, Steve Finnan to name a few.
"Tav is right up there. The way we play really suits James. The pleasing thing for me is he is still contributing to the other side of the game. He's pressing, he's really aggressive, he's winning his duels, stopping crosses.
"Our clean sheet record, to me, is just as important as James' other numbers. Where he is right now, he needs to bottle it and stay there for as long as he can because he's in fantastic form."
The Rangers skipper produced yet another eye-catching display for his side at the Global Energy Stadium on Sunday and must already be a contender for Player of the Season.
The right back played virtually as a right winger throughout the game, making numerous lung-busting forays down the flank, from which he created the visitors' opening goal for Roofe.
And to cap off his outstanding performance, the 29-year-old was also on target to double Rangers' lead, meaning the player has now scored or assisted in his team's last eight league matches.
Ross County face Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Saturday, with the game getting underway at 3pm.
Meanwhile, Rangers take on Lech Poznan in their final Europa League group-stage clash on Thursday (5.55pm), before travelling to Dundee United on Sunday December 13 (12pm), in a match you can see live on Sky Sports Football.