AN Alfredo Morelos double – the second of which arrived in the 89th minute – saw Rangers come from behind to defeat St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park this afternoon.
Trailing to a Matty Kennedy strike on the stroke of half-time, Morelos scored his first on 66 minutes and then flicked home a James Tavernier cross in the final minute of the 90 to conclude a hard-fought victory for Gers in Perth.
From the side which played so well on Wednesday at Hibs but couldn’t find a way to goal, out went Gareth McAuley, Ryan Jack and Scott Arfield, with their places taken by Joe Worrall, Ross McCrorie and Andy Halliday respectively.
Halliday should have marked his return to the starting XI with a goal inside four minutes, as he made a late run into the area to connect with a James Tavernier pass, but it was almost as if he took his eye off the ball as under little pressure and the home defence napping, he skewed his shot wide from 10-yards out.
Saints then opened up the Gers defence with a lobbed pass from Matty Kennedy setting up Murray Davidson for a chance just inside the area, but on the volley, he fired over the bar.
Davidson then won a header in the box from a David Wotherspoon corner-kick to set-up Liam Craig at the back post, but he headed wide with the goal gaping.
Chances were at a premium for both sides, and Ross McCrorie from holding midfield had the next one for the visitors on 33 minutes, sending a rasping shot from 20-yards just over the bar.
Alfredo Morelos was then given space in the box for the first time in the match, and his turn on the shot was deflected inches wide of the target.
An injury to Borna Barisic on 40 minutes saw Lee Wallace come on to replace him for only his second appearance of the season.
Then on the 45 minute mark, St Johnstone took the lead. A Scott Tanser cross reached Kennedy at the back post, and he was able to turn inside Andy Halliday and blast the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
That was how it remained at the break, and Gerrard replaced Eros Grezda with Glenn Middleton at the interval in an attempt to spark his side into life.
A long Connor Goldson ball forward picked out Daniel Candeias on the edge of the box and he was able to turn and travel forward before firing a shot over the bar.
Then on 66 minutes, the equaliser for Gers arrived. A fantastic cross from Middleton out on the left picked out Alfredo Morelos in the six-yard box and he was able to nod the ball beyond the despairing Zander Clark for his 18th goal of the season.
From there, Gers seemed to move up a gear, with their passing much crisper and more energy creeping into their play, but Saints on the break still looked a danger as Kennedy flashed a shot wide while Allan McGregor had to make a smart stop from Ross Callachan.
At the other end, Clark was somehow able to deny Kyle Lafferty from close range when the substitute connected to a Daniel Candieas cross while Wallace sent a shot just wide of the far post soon afterwards when he charged forward down the left.
Lafferty then came close again, with Goldson nodding down a Halliday free-kick into his path only for Clark to again deny the Ulsterman with an excellent stop, before Clark made it a third stop from Lafferty as he pushed his touch at the front post from a Middleton corner around the post.
It seemed a winning goal wasn’t to arrive for Gers, but on 89 minutes, up popped Morelos with his second of the afternoon to deliver for the Light Blues.
A super ball into the area from James Tavernier was met by the Colombian on the edge of the six yard box, and he produced a superb, flicked finish beyond the reach of the excellent Clark to finally put Gers ahead and earn a vital three points.
RANGERS: McGregor; Tavernier, Worrall, Goldson, Barisic (Wallace, 41); McCrorie, Halliday, Coulibaly (Lafferty, 56); Candeias, Grezda (Middleton, 45), Morelos.
SUBS NOT USED: Foderingham, Flanagan, Rossiter, Katic.
ST JOHNSTONE: Clark, Tanser, Alston, Shaughnessy, Davidson, Wotherspoon (Watt, 74) Kerr, Foster, Craig, Callachan, Kennedy (Swanson, 81).
SUBS NOT USED: Hurst, Anderson, McMillan, Nydam, Gordon.
REFEREE: Nick Walsh