Rangers 5-1 St Johnstone: Steven Gerrard's side go second after rout

Steven Gerrard argues that Rangers are at their best when they go for the jugular. An opportunity to skilfully wield the scalpel now beckons.
Celtic have haemorrhaged as many points in six games as they did in the whole of the Invincibles season.
Hearts were coasting until Livingston inflicted their first nosebleed of the season on Saturday. Aberdeen have yet to gatecrash the top six.
The early weeks of the Scottish Premiership season have been more competitive and cut-throat than anyone expected. And this clinical dissection of St Johnstone suggests Rangers are more dexterous with a flick knife than most.
The 1-0 defeat at Celtic Park before the international break was a sobering affair. Since then, the team in light blue have thumped Dundee 4-0, drawn 2-2 in Spain with Villarreal and now secured their biggest top-flight home win since May 2012 with a flowing display of attacking football.
Four points behind their imploding city rivals two matches ago, Rangers now find themselves a point ahead after a performance which felt like a statement.
Rightly, Hearts will rail against the myopic assumption a title race can only emanate from Glasgow. Yet the Edinburgh side travel to Ibrox in two weeks' time to begin a five-game run when they also face Hibs, Aberdeen and then Celtic at Parkhead. Rangers have an opportunity to press a foot on the throat of their rivals and press hard.
The Ibrox side face Ayr United in the Betfred League Cup on Wednesday, then travel to play a fast improving Livingston team in West Lothian on Sunday. A first away league win since April would inevitably ramp up talk of a title challenge despite Gerrard's insistence he won't allow his players to get carried away.
Quelling the expectation of supporters could be a different matter after five different scorers showed that - in stark contrast with Celtic right now - they have goals all through the team.
The rout began with a piercing James Tavernier free-kick in eight minutes. Tripped by Perth defender Scott Tanser 20 yards from goal, the captain picked himself up to curl a fine strike around the defensive wall, squeezing it between visiting keeper Zander Clark and his left-hand post.
Alfredo Morelos killed the game as a contest with a superb second goal in 34 minutes.
Tavernier - denied his second goal by the crossbar from another long-range free-kick minutes earlier - fed the Colombian at the byeline. The striker then skipped inside an over-committed Joe Shaughnessy before thrashing a left-foot angled strike high into the top corner.
From there, Rangers never looked back. In midfield, Scott Arfield continues to grow as a Rangers player, adding to his strike in Spain with the third goal in 52 minutes and teeing up another two - one for Kyle Lafferty minutes after the substitute took to the pitch, the other for the impressive Daniel Candeias.
Ryan Kent, the loan signing from Liverpool, earned an ovation from the home support when he left the pitch in 72 minutes. The winger was only denied his own place on the list of scorers by an excellent sprawling save from Clark in the first half.
He also met Morelos' cutback early in the second perio but saw his powerful strike rattle the bar, Arfield latching on to the rebound in a flash and keeping his shot low as he rifled home.
When they had chances to make this a contest, St Johnstone failed to take them, while boss Tommy Wright bemoaned poor defending at the other end. An early opportunity from a Drey Wright cross was swept over the crossbar by David Wotherspoon.
Blair Alston then had a chance to go it alone from the halfway line in 49 minutes.
By the time he tried to slipped Tony Watt in on goal, Rangers had bodies back in support and the opportunity was gone. It was a chance the home team would almost certainly have scored.
When Alston eventually gave St Johnstone something to cling on to by lashing a penalty high into the net 13 minutes from time, Rangers had already hit four.
The only downside for Gerrard was the loss of Tavernier to injury shortly after the hosts' third goal.
'He says he's fine and could have carried on but there's a little bit of tightness,' said the Ibrox manager.
'I've over-used James in certain situations.
'As soon as the third goal went in, I wanted to get him off. I don't think it's serious.
'He was excellent on Thursday and from half-time he was the best I've seen him.
'We know what he can do in the final third - he's the best attacking right-back in the league. He knows where I think he can improve and where I see him at his best. He's been magnificent.'
Kyle Lafferty was given the final 20 minutes after his equaliser against Villarreal and scored with almost his first touch, sidefooting the fourth Rangers goal past Clark after fine lead-up play by Morelos and Arfield.
Alston's spot kick, after he was tripped by Connor Goldson, briefly offered St Johnstone some respite from the one-way traffic.
But the home team were not done yet. Arfield's energetic run from midfield teed up Candeias to cut in from the right and thrash number five past Clark.
Defender Jon Flanagan described the margin of victory as a 'statement', adding that Rangers had to focus on their own business without focusing on Celtic's problems. There might be more chance now of Theresa May's Chequers plan coming to pass.
'It is early days at the minute and we are not focusing on them (Celtic),' said Flanagan. 'Our main aim is to keep picking up three points and do as well in the cups as possible.
'But it is massive and all the lads knew before the game that it was very important coming off the back of Villarreal.
'We needed to put a statement out there and we needed to pick up three points.' 

No comments found