RANGERS got their league campaign back on track to make it two wins in two on the road in the Premiership in Dingwall.
A controlling first-half display saw Alfredo Morelos score his fourth and fifth goals of the season since his summer arrival from Finnish side HJK. His first an intuitive header after half an hour and his second the talking point of the game after he dispossessed Staggies keeper Scott Fox in his own area to finish into an empty net.
The second-half belonged to Ross County who pulled one back 11 minutes after the break and then took control. The Gers clung on though and Eduardo Herrera came off the bench to score his first Rangers goal two minutes from time to secure an important three points for his team.
Pedro Caixinha had made one change for his first trip to the Highlands with Niko Kranjcar replacing the injured Josh Windass on the left of midfield and Rangers started positively, dominating for the opening 10 minutes but with little impact on goal.
Kenny Miller span and shot over on 10 minutes followed shortly after by a dangerous cross from Daniel Candeias’ right boot which Scott Fox was forced to bat away with a double fist. An earlier delivery from the former Benfica man had skimmed the county crossbar as he caused the home side some early problems down the wing.
County had a few bites at something of a half chance when Michael Gardyne floated a free-kick into the box but the Gers cleared their lines quickly. Candeias then turned provider on 22 minutes as the Gers continued to get some joy down the right. The winger laid off to James Tavernier who sent a fizzing strike from the edge of the box wide.
Five minutes later, against the run of play, Ryan Dow found himself threaded in a few yards out. It looked like he would fight Wes Foderingham one-on-one before Tavernier raced across with a last ditch tackle to take the ball from under his feet.
One attack later and Rangers had their lead through Morelos. With half an hour gone Tavernier did superbly to keep the ball in on the by-line before whipping a cross onto the head of the Colombian eight yards out. He rose impressively for his small stature and nodded down into the grass to sneak the ball between Fox and his right post.
At the other end Jim O’Brien tried to get the home side back into things but blazed a heavy shot well over the bar from 25 yards. Rangers then cried for a penalty when Jason Naismith slid in on Morelos on the edge of the box as he raced through. But the former St Mirren man had timed his intervention to perfection to stop the 21-year-old in his tracks.
The Light Blues didn’t need the help of a spot kick though instead it was the help of the County keeper which contributed to them doubling their lead on 40 minutes. Morelos read a badly judged back pass from Marcus Fraser across the area and chased down Fox as he went to control the ball with his feet. The striker had slid past the stopper in the process and he wrongly assumed that was Morelos done but he snuck up behind him as he considered his clearance, stole the ball off his toe, rounded the keeper and finished into an empty net.
Alves nearly gave Rangers a third three minutes before the break but a deflection took his free-kick a foot wide. The talking point was more what led to his set-piece though as Staggies’ captain Andrew Davies effectively used Kenny Miller as a climbing frame and struck out what looked like an elbow at the striker. He escaped with just a caution from Craig Thomson though.
County started the second-half with their own disagreement with the officials. Demanding a penalty when Tavernier challenged first-half sub Thomas Mikklesen on the edge of the box in a tangle of legs but their protests were waved away.
The home side had begun better and they took advantage of that to peg Rangers back on 56 minutes. Craig Curran curved a rapid cross around the backline of the Light Blues from the right and Mikkelsen met it with his head as he raced in, planting the ball beyond Foderingham.
They could have drawn level when Davis Keillor-Dunn, just on from the bench, swung a central free-kick at the Gers goal to send Foderingham sprawling to his right to turn the ball around the post. Ross County hadn’t taken their foot off the gas since the whistle sounded and Rangers were suddenly offering little in return.
Carlos Pena was brought on for his just his second appearance in a Rangers jersey since signing in the summer and nearly made his first significant impact with 13 minutes to go. Morelos spied him to his left as they blazed into the box and played him in short. The Mexican took it first time and hit one on the angle but it whizzed over the crossbar.
County continued to dominate but against the run of play Herrera got himself off the mark for Rangers, netting his side’s third in the 88th minute. After some toing and froing between himself and fellow Mexican Pena in the box the Gers worked the ball out to the left flank and Lee Wallace. The skipper got to the by-line to cut back and Herrera slid the ball beyond Fox.
RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, Cardoso, Alves, Wallace; Candeias, Jack, Dorrans, Kranjcar (Pena 62’), Morelos (Rossiter 78’), Miller (Herrera 60’)
Subs not used: Alnwick, Hodson, Wilson, Dalcio
Goals: Morelos 30’ 40’ Herrera 88’
ROSS COUNTY: Fox, Kelly, Gardyne, Lindsay (Mikkelsen 38’), O’Brien, Curran, Naismith, Davies, Chow (Draper 60’), Fraser, Dow (Keillor-Dunn 50’)
Subs not used: McCarey, Schalk, Tumilty, Routis.
Goals: Mikkelsen 56’
Yellows: Davies 42’ Gardyne 79’