JAMES TAVERNIER scored two penalties and Jermain Defoe netted another – with Ryan Kent also on target – as Rangers claimed three important Premiership points after a remarkable game against St Mirren at Ibrox.
Tavernier took his goal tally for the season to eleven when he calmly slotted in his spot kicks in the third and 55th minutes – although he will be kicking himself for also missing a second penalty in the 24th minute off the post!
Incredibly, Rangers were then awarded a fourth pen on 79 minutes and the skipper handed the ball to January signing Defoe who blasted the ball high into the net from 12 yards for his first Ibrox goal.
Kent then added gloss to the scoreline when he made it 4-0 – the in-form playmaker producing a great chipped finish after good build-up play for Defoe.
It was an amazing afternoon for both sets of fans to take in and, regardless of the four penalties awarded, Rangers certainly deserved the points given their overall performance and chances created.
With only two minutes played referee Andrew Dallas had his first big decision to make and it was an easy one.
Ethan Erhahon produced a clumsy challenge on Defoe in the box and, after the penalty was given, Gers skipper Tavernier coolly slotted his spot kick beyond Czech goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky. It was a dream start for the Light Blues and a nightmare for Saints boss Oran Kearney and his players.
The pressure continued on the visitors’ goal and with 11 minutes on the clock a low shot from Kent was tipped around the post by Hladky who dived to his left in front of the Broomloan Stand.
On 24 minutes Rangers had the opportunity to double their advantage and again it came from a penalty after Paul McGinn was adjudged to have tripped Defoe.
The St Mirren players were enraged by the decision but Tavernier, uncharacteristically, hit Hladky’s right-hand post with the goalkeeper going the wrong way.
At the half hour mark Allan McGregor had not made a save but he had watched a couple of speculative efforts go high and wide of his goal.
At the other end of the pitch Kent was again a constant threat with his pace and movement, and on 35 minutes he came so close to scoring when his right-foot curler came off the crossbar.
With Tavernier’s penalty all that separated the sides at half-time, the Paisley Buddies were still very much in the match and they would have been fully away of that as they got the second period underway.
On 52 minutes a good passage of play from the visitors resulted in striker Simeon Jackson scooping a left-foot shot over the crossbar and just two minutes later Rangers were awarded a third penalty.
A powerful cross from Tavernier appeared to hit Greg Tansey on the arm and the ref initially awarded a free-kick as it was on the edge of the box.
He quickly realised it was inside and Tav, this time, made no mistake as he clipped the ball straight down the middle of Hladky’s goal to make it 2-0.
The keeper had no chance with the penalties scored but he went on to impressively deny Defoe, Candeias, Kent and Morelos with fine saves before Dallas again pointed to the spot in the 79th minutes after a foul on Daniel Candeias as he burst into the box.
Tavernier this time handed the ball to Defoe and he put his laces through it to score his first goal in front of the Ibrox faithful.
Rangers made it 4-0 in the 81st minute as Defoe this time turned provider. The striker fed the ball to Kent on the left channel and with the goalkeeper coming off his line the on-loan Liverpool star chipped a brilliant finish into the net.