Antonio Colak scored for the third game in a row as Rangers swept St Johnstone aside with a 4-0 Premiership win at Ibrox.
Malik Tillman gave the patient home side the lead in the 32nd minute with a close-range header. St Johnstone continued to make life difficult for the Light Blues until Croatia striker Colak, who had netted in previous games against Union Saint-Gilloise and Kilmarnock, drove in a second from 10 yards in the 62nd minute, with late goals by substitutes Scott Arfield and Tom Lawrence adding gloss to the scoreline.
It was a third Rangers victory at Ibrox in a week with three clean sheets which will boost confidence before the first leg of their Champions League playoff against PSV in Govan on Tuesday night. With injuries to Ryan Kent and James Sands from Tuesday’s European game, Rangers defender Ben Davies made his first start and Rabbi Matondo, Ryan Jack and Scott Wright also came in against unchanged St Johnstone.
There was a half-hearted appeal for a penalty within minutes when Colak tumbled inside the box following a challenge by St Johnstone’s on-loan Millwall defender Alex Mitchell. Referee Nick Walsh took no notice.
In the fourth minute, St Johnstone goalkeeper Remi Matthews drove a clearance off Tillman and was glad to see the ball fly wide of the goal. There was early St Johnstone disruption three minutes later when Cammy MacPherson went off injured to be replaced by former Watford midfielder Daniel Phillips for his debut.
It was one-way traffic but in the 17th minute, when a deep cross bounced off Rangers defender Borna Barisic eight yards out, striker Theo Blair knocked the ball wide of a post from on the ground and a good St Johnstone chance was gone.
Home midfielder John Lundstram came close on the half-hour with a powerful 25-yard drive which had Matthews stretching to tip over the crossbar. Rangers kept the visitors pinned in and when Captain James Tavernier took a Wright pass and floated the ball over to the back post, Tillman, on loan from Bayern Munich, rose high again to head in off the bar.
In the 50th minute Matondo, playing off the left, cracked the woodwork with a drive from the edge of the box and Barisic cleared the bar by inches with a free-kick from a similar distance.
When St Johnstone lost a second, it was their own fault. A hesitant Drey Wright was robbed by Matondo inside the penalty area and the ball fell to Colak who swiftly turned and drove the ball low past Matthews.
Colak then made a way for Alfredo Morelos in a triple substitution that also saw Wright and Tillman replaced by Arfield and Lawrence.
The points were secured and it was a case of Rangers trying to add to their tally, which Arfield did with 10 minutes remaining when he converted a Matondo cutback from 12 yards. Three minutes later Arfield set up Lawrence for his first Rangers goal and after a comprehensive domestic display, manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst returns his focus back to Europe and PSV.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism