Rangers 3-0 St Johnstone: Ibrox side ease to top of Premiership

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Joe Aribo headed Rangers into a 3-0 lead

Rangers moved to the top of the Scottish Premiership with a clinical win over St Johnstone.

The visitors limited Steven Gerrard’s side to two first-half chances, but both were taken – a Borna Barisic free-kick and Ryan Kent shot on the turn.

A Joe Aribo header shortly after half-time settled the game.

Rangers move ahead of Hibernian on goal difference after three straight wins, with both now five points clear of champions Celtic.

With Neil Lennon’s side having their midweek game postponed after Boli Bolingoli’s Covid-19 lockdown indiscretion, their city rivals took full advantage.

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 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

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’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.

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