RANGERS endured a disappointing and frustrating 90 minutes at home as St Johnstone fought back from being a goal down to claim three Premiership points at Ibrox.
A well-taken goal from Alfredo Morelos after just five minutes looked to put the in-form Light Blues in the driving seat, and after four league wins on the bounce things were looking good.
From there however, Graeme Murty’s men failed to maintain their recent standards, with Blair Alston equalising with 10 minutes showing on the stadium’s scoreboards.
Further goals from striker Denny Johnstone and substitute Graham Cummins in the second half meant this was an afternoon to forget for the Gers players and one to remember for Tommy Wright’s Saints.
In just the second minute of play there was an early scare for the Ibrox faithful when a high cross came in from the right which Wes Foderingham came out to claim.
The big goalkeeper failed to get to the ball however, and Denny Johnstone’s header rolled a yard wide of the post in front of the Copland Road Stand.
If that had the St Johnstone fans out of their seats, on five minutes it was Morelos who had the Rangers supporters out of theirs as he opened the scoring in fine style.
Ryan Jack, who was back in the side having missed Wednesday night’s visit to Easter Road through suspension, drove forward from midfield and fed a perfect pass through to his teammate in the right channel.
The in-form Colombian didn’t think twice as he hit an accurate shot across Zander Clark and into the opposite bottom corner of the net.
Wright struggled to contain his rage in the technical area with his players failing to track back and mark Morelos, but on 10 minutes the visitors were on level terms and, not for the first time against Rangers, it was former Falkirk midfielder Blair Alston who scored.
Again a cross came in from the right and when Bruno Alves headed the ball out of his 18-yard box it fell perfectly for Alston who curled a terrific left-foot shot past Wes Foderingham.
After a positive start to the game in bitterly cold conditions, the Light Blues now had to turn up the heat on their opponents with the Saints beginning to settle into the match following their early setback. And at the half-hour mark the match was in serious need of a spark with both teams cancelling each other out and neither goalkeeper being really tested.
On 36 minutes a foul on Declan John gave Alves the chance to move up the park to take the free-kick, but his effort was blocked and went out for a corner. This was to be the last goalscoring chance of a first-half which was lacking quality and creativity.
The Union Bears, who celebrated their tenth anniversary with a stunning card display before kick-off today, again tried to lift the atmosphere from the Broomloan Front at the start of the second half, as did Jason Holt who received the second booking of the match for a hard, but what appeared to be fair, challenge on the experienced Chris Millar in the centre circle.
After an hour of play Murty whistled over to Niko Kranjcar who was warming up with the subs, but before the Croatian could replace Daniel Candeias on 62 minutes, St Johnstone took the lead.
A deep cross was sent into Rangers’ box and Johnstone was there to head the ball past the helpless Foderingham.
Having shown their resilience to battle back from being a goal down in previous games against Ross County and Hibs, Rangers now had to it again, only on this occasion they had less time to turn things around.
On 68 minutes James Tavernier’s delivery from the right was almost perfect for Josh Windass, but the club’s number 11 appeared to stretch as he headed over the bar from six yards.
Tommy Wright then made his first changes, with David Wotherspoon and Graham Cummins going on, and with what must have been his first touch the latter made it 3-1 with a low shot which fizzed across Fotheringham and inside his far post.
With a two-goal lead in place St Johnstone could now enjoy the rest of their visit to Ibrox, and although Rangers did try to get back into the match, a Kranjcar free-kick which clipped the roof of the net was as close as they came to scoring a second goal.
RANGERS (4-1-2-3): Foderingham; Tavernier, Alves, Wilson (Herrera 76), John; McCrorie; Holt, Jack; Candeias (Kranjcar 62), Windass, Morelos.
SUBS: Kelly, Hodson, Bates, Barjonas, Hardie.
GOALS: Morelos 5
BOOKINGS: Holt, Wilson
ST JOHNSTONE (4-4-1-1): Clark; Foster, Shaugnessy, Anderson, Tanser; Alston, Millar, Paton, Craig (McClean 90); Scougall (Wotherspoon 70), Johnstone (Cummins 70)
SUBS: Mannus, MacLean, Gordon, Thomson
GOALS: Alston 10, Johnstone 61, Cummins 71
BOOKINGS: Johnstone, Craig, Anderson, Wotherspoon
REFEREE: Don Robertson