How Alfredo Morelos returned to prominence as Rangers sign off 2020 with another win
The likelihood of them celebrating a first title win in a decade come next May will become much clearer after reigning champions Celtic come first-footing to Ibrox on Saturday.
Kemar Roofe’s ninth goal in his last 11 appearances put Rangers in front before a welcome return to scoring form for Alfredo Morelos, his first in eight games, ensured a measure of revenge for their shock Betfred Cup exit at the same ground two weeks earlier.
It wasn’t an afternoon without its difficult moments for the league leaders but they can feel more than satisfied by the solidly professional manner in which they ultimately subdued their eager opponents.
St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin reverted to the same starting line-up who began that dramatic cup victory.
If he felt he had discovered the formula to upset the Ibrox side, it certainly looked that way again in an uncertain opening spell for the visitors.
Their hesitancy and discomfort with the aggressive pressing of the hosts manifested itself after just 15 seconds when Steven Davis was robbed by Jamie McGrath who forced a decent save from Allan McGregor.
The Rangers goalkeeper, making his 400th appearance for the club, looked less assured when he spilled a shot from Dylan Connolly but his blushes were spared when Jon Obika blazed the loose ball over from close range.
It was a glorious opportunity for Saints and they were made to pay for their profligacy when Rangers opened the scoring with their first meaningful attacking move of the afternoon in the 27th minute.
Some delightful footwork from Ianis Hagi allowed him to elude some close attention from the home defence and thread a pass to Roofe whose shot took a nick off Conor McCarthy on its way to beating Jak Alnwick.
The goal settled Rangers and just six minutes later they found themselves with firm control of proceedings when they doubled their lead.
It was a gift from Saints captain Joe Shaughnessy who was woefully short with a passback which was seized upon eagerly by Morelos. There was no hint of rustiness about his finishing as he coolly dispatched his first league goal since September beyond the exposed Alnwick.
There was a reminder for Rangers that St Mirren wouldn’t submit meekly when Obika outmuscled Connor Goldson to force a good save from McGregor four minutes into the second half.
Gerrard’s men had to work hard both in and out of possession to repel Saints’ efforts to claw their way back into the contest as the added insurance of a third goal eluded them.
St Mirren (4-5-1): Alnwick, Fraser, McCarthy, Shaughnessy, Tait; Connolly (McAllister 82), McGrath (Dennis 77), Doyle-Hayes, Erhahon (MacPherson 85), Mason (Durmus 77); Obika. Subs not used: Lyness, Flynn, Foley, Morais, Erwin.
Rangers (4-3-3): McGregor, Tavernier (Balogun 88), Goldson, Helander, Barisic; Aribo, Davis, Kamara; Roofe (Kent 74), Morelos, Hagi (Zungu 80). Subs not used: McLaughlin, Bassey, Patterson, Barker, Defoe, Itten.
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