RANGERS returned to winning ways tonight, running-out comfortable winners against Ross County at Ibrox in the Scottish Premiership.
Jermain Defoe and Scott Arfield netted either side of half time – though there was a blow for the Light Blues with Defoe stretchered-off just beyond the hour mark.
From the side which was beaten at Hearts on Sunday, boss Steven Gerrard named three changes to his side.
Out went the injured Ryan Jack as well as Jon Flanagan and Joe Aribo, with their places taken by Scott Arfield, Matt Polster for his first league start, and Sheyi Ojo.
Indeed, Polster almost opened the scoring within five minutes, with his cross from the right being unorthodoxly shovelled off the line by County keeper Nathan Baxter.
A super break led by Ojo ended with him laying the ball left for Ryan Kent, and he brought a smart save out of Baxter as he shot across him, the goalkeeper forced into conceding a corner.
Ojo had a dig from 25-yards which flashed just wide, while Scott Arfield had a snapshot on the end of a scramble following a Kent free-kick deflected over the bar.
County were proving hard to break down, although they did try to get men forward whenever they could, albeit without ever threatening Allan McGregor’s goal.
Despite that, Gers managed to make the breakthrough on 41 minutes. Marcus Fraser was put under pressure by Scott Arfield in the area, and he headered a Borna Barisic cross high into the area.
As it came down, Arfield managed to win it and get the ball onto Jermain Defoe, and with his back to goal, he spun away from marker Keith Watson and got enough on his shot to get it away from Baxter and hand the Light Blues the lead going into the break.
And within two minutes of the restart, the fans were on their feet to greet a superb second.
Sheyi Ojo fed Defoe who was around 30-yards out, again with his back to goal. He noticed the run of Scott Arfield beyond him, however, and fed the Canadian skipper with a superb, backheeled-flick.
Arfield charged through the middle of the two County central defenders, and finished low underneath the onrushing Baxter to hand his side a cushion.
Niko Katic then almost made it three, battling his way through a clutch of bodies in typical fashion to get something on a Barisic free-kick at the back post, though it went just over the bar.
There was a blow for Gers on 58 minutes as Defoe, who looked to chase an Ojo through ball, went down clutching the back of his leg.
He was stretchered off to a standing ovation round Ibrox, and was replaced by Joe Aribo, before Alfredo Morelos made his return on 67 minutes in place of Ryan Kent.
Morelos almost scored with his first touch – an audacious curling chip from the right of goal which only just cleared Baxter’s goal.
Arfield had another effort, his time which he sent wide on the end of another Ojo through-ball, while Katic was inches away from connecting to another top-class Barisic delivery from the left from a free-kick.
Morelos then shot wide under pressure as Arfield managed to get him in on the right channel, while the Colombian was denied well by Baxter in injury-time when he got the break of the ball from a County clearance.
RANGERS: McGregor; Polster, Goldson, Katic, Barisic; Davis (Jones, 74), Kamara, Arfield; Ojo, Kent (Morelos, 67), Defoe (Aribo, 61).
SUBS: Foderingham, Edmundson, Barker, Patterson.
ROSS COUNTY: Baxter, Fraser, Kelly, McKay (Erwin, 78), Vigurs (Spence, 72), Mullin, Watson, Spittal, Tillson, Donaldson, Cowie (Draper, 74)
SUBS: Laidlaw, Fontaine, Foster, Shaw.
REFEREE: Don Robertson