THE Pedro Caixinha era at Rangers got off to a dream start as the Light Blues recorded their biggest Premiership win of the season – crushing Hamilton Academical 4-0 at Ibrox Stadium this afternoon.
Goals from Emerson Hyndman and Clint Hill in the first half and Martyn Waghorn and Lee Wallace in the second made it a comfortable first day at the office for Caixinha.
In front of a capacity home crowd, section BF1 unfurled a banner prior to kick-off welcoming the new boss, and thanking interim gaffer Graeme Murty for his efforts over the last month.
Inside the first two minutes, strike duo Martyn Waghorn and Kenny Miller combined well, with Waghorn nodding the ball down for Miller, and while his strike on goal was blocked, the ball rebounded for the incoming Barrie McKay but on the volley, he could find only the gloves of Accies’ keeper Gary Woods.
The opening minutes saw Gers take almost total ownership of the ball, but what really stood out was the intensity the Light Blues were playing with, and also how direct they were with every pass from midfield going forward, mostly to full-backs James Tavernier and Lee Wallace who were pushed high up the pitch.
Joining the good play was a number of chances, which really should have resulted in the opening goal. Firstly, a superb combination between Miller and Emerson Hyndman ended with the American flashing the ball across the face which Waghorn almost connected with.
Then, an outstanding Miller ball down the left for Barrie McKay saw him pick out Jason Holt who had made a superb run into the box, but he fired over the bar when he really should have scored from 15-yards out.
The goal was certainly coming, and with 26 minutes on the clock, it duly arrived.
James Tavernier brought the ball from his own half to the edge of the Hamilton box before playing a beautiful one-two with Miller. That then set Tavernier on his way into the penalty area where he cut a perfect ball back for the arriving Emerson Hyndman to finish from only a few yards out to register the first goal of the Pedro Caixinha era, and Hyndman’s fourth in the colours of Rangers.
For Hamilton and their tiny band of supporters, they had pretty much no riposte to Gers good play, with their best effort of the half coming through a Ali Crawford overhead kick which was easily gathered by Wes Foderingham on the 38-minute mark.
And, their afternoon became even worse two minutes later as Clint Hill made it three goals in as many games for him.
Barrie McKay was fouled 20-yards from the touchline on the right wing for a free-kick which Jon Toral stepped up to take. The Spaniard’s delivery was truly outstanding to the back post where Hill was waiting to tap home.
The second half began with Martyn Waghorn taking an arm in the face from Alex Gogic, a foul which saw the Accies man booked. From the resulting free-kick 25-yards from goal, James Tavernier found the roof of the net with a curling effort.
In terms of play and possession, Rangers were just as dominant as they were in the first half, if not even more so, and they won the chance to go 3-0 in front on 54 minutes as Waghorn was brought down by Massimo Donati for a penalty kick after the Englishman swerved away from the Italian only to find himself tripped by an outstretched leg.
Waghorn himself stepped-up to take the kick, and he dispatched it straight down the middle with keeper Woods diving to his right.
Any time Caixinha’s men went forward, they looked good for a goal, and as Tavernier was again involved with a surging run down the left, he found Kenny Miller on the corner of the box, but he wasn’t quite able to get the ball out of his feet as he would have liked, and his shot was weak and found only the arms of Woods.
Joe Garner then came on in place of Barrie McKay, and that saw a change in formation with the initial 4-4-1-1 becoming 4-2-3-1, with Garner as the lone frontman.
Gers fourth goal then arrived after 74 minutes – and what a goal it was. With Martyn Waghorn now playing on the left of the three, he received a pass from captain Lee Wallace before flicking it majestically round the corner for Wallace to latch onto one more and finish from an acute angle beyond Woods.
Accies forced a few corners in something of a late rally, but the Gers defence held firm to register a clean sheet, with the attacking unit also working impressively well to register the ideal first match for new boss Caixinha.
RANGERS (4-4-1-1): Foderingham; Tavernier, Wilson, Hill, Wallace; Hyndman, Toral, Holt, McKay (Garner, 66); Miller; Waghorn (Dodoo, 76)
SUBS: Alnwick, Hodson, Senderos, Windass.
BOOKINGS: Tavernier (57’), Wallace (84′).
HAMILTON: Woods, Gillespie (Skondras, 76), Imrie, Docherty (D’Acol, 70), Redmond (Kurtaj, 83), Crawford, Gogic, MacKinnon, Donati, McMann, Sarris.
SUBS: Matthews, Bingham, Watson, Brophy.
BOOKINGS: Redmond (36’), Gogic (49’),
REFEREE: Don Robertson.
ATTENDANCE: 49, 090.