Rangers’ performance v St Johnstone was as Jekyll and Hyde a display as Steven Gerrard’s men have produced this season.
The first half was slow, lethargic, littered with passing mistakes and lacking wildly in convincing shots on goal.
The second half was sharp, incisive, energetic, and once Alfredo Morelos’ stunning opening goal had nestled in the back of the net, the game was already as good as won.
It really was the proverbial game of two halves.
While Steven Gerrard cut an uncharacteristically miserable figure before kick off, the team he put out looked strong on paper. Nikola Katic’s bizarre continued omission aside, the XI picked certainly was up there as one of Rangers’ stronger.
Scott Arfield was mercifully rested (more on that later) and midfield saw the enterprising Steven Davis pulling the usual strings behind Aribo and Jack, while Brandon Barker got a rare starting chance with Ojo on the other side flanking El-Buffalo.
And this XI did dictate the first half significantly – but it failed disappointingly to make Zander Clark do much beyond Morelos’ one-on-one. Indeed, but for an absolutely magnificent McGregor save, Helander’s careless ‘assist’ for O’Halloran could have seen more of a tussle for Rangers to get the three points.
After the break, and once Morelos had broken the deadlock, the game was dead and buried, and at long last Rangers’ recent poverty in front of goal was crushed as Goldson’s decent header made it two before Jermain Defoe’s clinical finishing as a sub rounded off a nice scoreline for the visitors.
The result slightly flattered Gerrard’s men – they’d had most of the ball but hadn’t done enough with it, where St Johnstone will rue two massive chances they had – but of course Rangers were denied a stone wall penalty too.
What was absolutely critical yesterday afternoon was the three points. St Johnstone were looking to take a big scalp to get their horrific season finally up and running, and this was a bit of a banana skin potentially for Rangers.
And the truth is the visiting side did not play badly at all, it just lacked killer edge in the first half.
In the second, Gerrard’s men put the home side to the sword, and took their chances (and luck) very well indeed.
Was it the result of a side looking to make a sustained title challenge? Well, Celtic were tested by Killie too, as Alessio’s side in fact led v Lennon’s outfit, and they too rose to the challenge and won out 3-1. But all Rangers can do is just keep winning.
Let’s not forget, Celtic debacle aside Rangers’ record this season is impeccable – 100% wins. The only draws have been leg affairs in Europe, so whatever some might think of the performances in places, the results do keep flowing.
We’re not ‘loving’ what we’re seeing, as it can be a bit patchy, but it’s getting results and that’s the crucial factor.
Rangers need to just keep winning, and the rest will take care of itself.