RANGERS returned to winning ways in the SPFL Premiership with goals from Lassana Coulibaly, Ryan Kent, James Tavernier and Glenn Middleton securing three valuable points against Neil McCann’s Dundee.
The Dark Blues arrived at Ibrox having lost all four of their league matches in 2018/19 and they never looked like taking anything from their fifth, with Coulibaly netting his side’s opening goal from close range with just four minutes played before Kent doubled the advantage, and opened his Rangers account, with a terrific solo effort – the club’s number 14 scoring in the 14th minute.
The game was effectively over before half-time when Darren O’Dea brought Alfredo Morelos down in the box with a clumsy challenge and super skipper James Tavernier made no mistake from the spot.
The second half saw Eros Grezda make his Ibrox bow before Kenny Miller was shown a red card for a second bookable offence. Substitute Glenn Middleton then made it 4-0 with his first senior goal as Steven Gerrard’s men enjoyed a straightforward victory against the struggling Taysiders.
Rangers, with Andy Halliday, Daniel Candeias and Coulibaly back in the starting line-up, looked in the mood from Kevin Clancy’s first whistle and with just three minutes on the clock a teasing cross from Tavernier looked perfect for man of the match Scott Arfield but he glanced his header wide.
In the next attack, however, the Ibrox faithful were out of their seats celebrating the opening goal, and it was that man Coulibaly who got it.
Borna Barisic had a shot blocked nervously in the box by a Dundee defender and it fell perfectly for the Malian midfielder who slammed the ball past Elliott Parish.
On eight minutes things looked to be getting even better when a terrific pass from Kent sent Candeias racing down the right flank.
The winger curled a cross to the back post to Morelos who found the net, but the Govan Stand linesman had already raised his flag with the Colombian in an offside position.
On 14 minutes it was Rangers’ number 14’s moment to shine and what a superb goal it was from the electric Kent.
The on-loan Liverpool man played two clever one-twos with Coulibaly and Arfield to get into the visitors’ 18-yard box before he calmly slotted the ball into the net with aplomb for his first Rangers goal.
It was a terrific solo run and finish from the 21-year-old who clearly enjoyed the moment of magic as he celebrated in front of the Broomloan Stand.
Dundee were struggling to cope with the Light Blues’ attacking play in the early stages and a ferocious, but fair, challenge from Darren O’Dea left Morelos writhing in pain in front of the away dugout.
Coulibaly was certainly enjoyed his return to the starting eleven and when a Tavernier corner kick bounce up in the box, the midfielder, with his back to goal, attempted an acrobatic overhead kick which landed on the roof of the net.
Kent was also in fine form and on 35 minutes he saw a powerful left-foot shot palmed around the post by Parish.
Dundee then produced their best moment of the game up to this point and they really should have pulled a goal back.
With four men pushing forward against two Rangers defenders, Miller slipped a pass through to Elton Ngwatala who was one-on-one with Allan McGregor. Fortunately, the Frenchman took one touch too many before releasing a shot which was blocked and went out for a corner.
That was the only glimmer of hope for the away support in the first half as Gerrard’s men made it 3-0 before the interval.
Kent was heavily involved again as he slipped a great pass through to Morelos who, on the turn and just inside Dundee’s 18-yard box, went to ground from O’Dea poor challenge. Clancy immediately pointed to the spot and Tavernier blasted the ball beyond Parish, who dived helplessly to his right.
Three minutes into the second half and Rangers should have been further ahead when the industrious Candeias did well to dispossess a Dundee defender and he unselfishly squared it to Morelos. The striker looked certain to score with Parish out of position but his effort was blocked.
The home side were playing with style and confidence and that was there for all to see when Kent produced a lightning quick step-over to get space on the left wing and Arfield’s header from the cross skimmed the roof of the net.
Gerrard made his first switch on 56 minutes with the impressive Coulibaly replaced by energetic 18-year-old Glenn Middleton. Kent then received a deserved standing ovation as he went off with Kyle Lafferty going on.
With Rangers 3-0 up and cruising along nicely in this one-sided contest, the manager decided it was right time to hand Albanian international Gredza his debut and, wearing the number 35 jersey, he was given a warm welcome from the Ibrox faithful.
On 78 minutes former Gers forward Kenny Miller suffered the disappointment of being shown a red card on his return to the stadium. The forward was late with a challenge on Barisic but many Bears applauded the 38-year-old, who enjoyed three spells with the club.
With eight minutes of play it was Middleton who completed the scoring. Candeias’ low cross was poorly dealt with by Dundee sub Genseric Kusunga and the Gers youngster coolly slotted it home for his first senior goal.
Lafferty and Connor Goldson both came close to adding to the scoreline before full time but, overall, Steven Gerrard will be delighted with his players efforts as they claimed a thoroughly deserved win following the international break.
RANGERS: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Katic, Barisic; Halliday, Coulibaly (Middleton 56) Arfield; Candeias, Kent (Lafferty 65), Morelos (Grezda 76).
SUBS: Foderingham, McCrorie, Flanagan, Worrall
GOALS: Coulibaly 4, Kent 14, Tavernier 45+3, Middleton 84
BOOKINGS: Morelos, Goldson
DUNDEE: Parish; Boyle, O’Dea (Kusunga 50), Kerr; Curran, McGowan, Madianga, Ngwatala, Miller (Nabi 70); Miller, Kallman (Moussa 62)
SUBS: Hamilton, Mendy, Spence, Moore
BOOKINGS: Kerr, Ngwatala, Miller, Curran
RED CARD: Miller
REF: Kevin Clancy