RANGERS won again in the Scottish Premiership to move up to second place and now sit just two points of the summit of the table.

After Daniel Candeias had put Gers ahead in the first half, it took until the final 10 minutes of the match to kill the game off with Alfredo Morelos and Scott Arfield continuing their personal good runs of scoring form.

From the side which hammered Motherwell 7-1 a fortnight ago, out went the two centre-halves from that demolition, Joe Worrall and Nikola Katic, with their places taken by Connor Goldon and a first start for Gareth McAuley.

Morelos also had to make-do with a place on the bench with Kyle Lafferty coming in for him for his 150th start, while Candeias returned to the side in place of Eros Grezda.

The opening period was pretty even, and while most of the possession belonged to the home side, the first real opportunity fell to Livingston on 10 minutes.

A free-kick from deep wasn’t properly cleared by the Gers defence, with the ball breaking eventually to the towering Alan Lithgow who pirouetted superbly inside the area before cannoning a shot off the base of Allan McGregor’s right-hand post.

It served as a warning of the threat the West Lothian club could pose, but Gers didn’t let it knock them as they began to up the pace of their play to a terrific level, and began to cause Livi all sorts of problems.

A Glenn Middleton ball reached Scott Arfield in the middle of the area, with former Ger Liam Kelly making a fine save to deny him before the rebound which fell to Daniel Candeias was hacked off the line by Craig Halkett.

The breakthrough then arrived on 21 minutes. A wonderful, improvised corner routine saw an excellent delivery from Glenn Middleton to the front post for Daniel Candeias, catching the visitors off-guard, and the Portuguese winger glanced a header beyond Kelly.

At the other end, a decent free-kick effort from distance from Halkett forced McGregor into a stop at his near-post before Steven Gerrard’s men responded with Arfield chesting a Candeias cross wide and Andy Halliday making Kelly save low to his right with a shot from just outside the area.

A loose touch from Lithgow as he tried to play out with the ball allowed Arfield to win it, and he in-turn slipped in Kyle Lafferty, but the Ulsterman’s second touch was heavy and he could only find the side-netting.

Lafferty then volleyed a Middleton free-kick over the bar from 15-yards out at the start of the second half while Middleton himself tested Kelly with a fine drive at the end of a lightning counter-attack.

The second goal for Gers just wouldn’t come, however, and that made for a pretty nervous closing period, with McGregor having to be alert to save well from Keaghan Jacobs.

But then, with six minutes left to play, substitute Alfredo Morelos made sure of the three points with his 16th goal of a fantastic season for the little Colombian. Cutting in from the right wing, the static Livi defence were too scared to tackle him and he eventually blasted the ball beyond Kelly once he had worked a yard of space.

Gers relaxed after that, and added a third goal with two minutes left to play. This time Morelos was the provider, again picking the ball up on the right before finding the incoming Scott Arfield at the front post to divert the ball home from close range.

 

RANGERS: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, McAuley, Halliday (Flanagan, 76); Jack, Ejaria (Coulibaly, 80), Arfield; Candeias, Middleton, Lafferty (Morelos, 62).

SUBS NOT USED: Foderingham, Worrall, Rossiter, Grezda.

LIVINGSTON: Kelly, Burns (Lawless, 63), Lithgow, Halkett, Gallagher, Byrne (Sibbald, 69), Pittman, Robinson (Hamilton, 75), Jacobs, Lamie, Lawson.

SUBS NOT USED: Stewart, Kaja, McMillan, Cadden.

REFEREE: Nick Walsh

ATTENDANCE: 49, 448.

 

 

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