Scottish Premiership
RangersRangers2St JohnstoneSt Johnstone0

Rangers 2-0 St Johnstone: Champions ease to victory to maintain four-point lead

By Thomas DuncanBBC Scotland
Rangers v St Johnstone

Rangers swept aside a dishevelled St Johnstone to maintain their four-point lead on a dramatic night in the Scottish Premiership title race.

Alfredo Morelos headed in the opener after an utterly dominant 43 minutes in which the visitors failed to register a single shot.

Ryan Kent finished from Morelos' cross shortly after the break to seal a seventh straight league win.

Defeat keeps St Johnstone bottom of the league and winless in five matches.

Rangers' win - coupled with Celtic's last-minute triumph at Ross County - keeps the tense title race interesting as the second Old Firm derby of the season looms on 2 January.

Manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst also maintains his 100% league record with his side motoring along impressively despite the abrupt departure of Steven Gerrard.

Rangers were aggressive going forward, with Joe Aribo influential once more, as well as out of possession as they constantly recovered the ball to stop St Johnstone countering.

Kent ought to have had a hat-trick in the first half alone, but he dragged one shot wide and was denied by St Johnstone goalkeeper Zander Clark on three occasions.

And only key interventions from defenders James Brown, Shaun Rooney, and Jamie McCart prevented tap-ins for Rangers attackers as they visitors clung on, before Morelos eventually broke their resistance just before half-time.

The Colombian was unmarked at the back post to nod in his 12th goal of the season after Connor Goldson flicked on James Tavernier's corner.

The break gave St Johnstone time to breathe and regroup, having somehow gone down the tunnel just one goal down, but they could find no answer in the second period.

Within five minutes of the restart Kent finally had his goal as he swept home from close-range after Morelos had been played in by Aribo to square the ball across the box.

St Johnstone did improve in the final 25 minutes, but did not manage to force goalkeeper Allan McGregor into a save, while Liam Craig was booked for diving in the box after going down easily under pressure from Glen Kamara.

Man of the match - Joe Aribo

Joe Aribo
Aribo continually picked up clever pockets of space to combine with team-mates, and was unlucky not to score after hitting a post from distance.

What did we learn?

Aribo seems to be enjoying life under Van Bronckhorst. He continually drifts into spaces around the penalty area and combines with team-mates, slipping through clever balls and getting shots away.

He was ably supported by Morelos, who arguably turned in his best performance of the season. He linked play beautifully all night, and grabbed a goal and an assist, and made seven key passes.

Rangers play forward much quicker since Van Bronckhorst arrived, and it seems to suit their attacking players, who have plenty of pace, power, and skill to create havoc.

St Johnstone, on the other hand, look a side drained of confidence. They have never been prolific scorers, nor would they expect to create lots of chances at Ibrox. But what was worrying was the number of opportunities they gave away.

Last season they frustrated Rangers in the Scottish Cup before knocking them out on penalties by denying them any space, but this time they could have been four or five goals down at half-time.

Stevie May made a difference off the bench on his return from injury, and they will need him and January recruits to wrestle clear of relegation - like they did last term while also clinching two trophies.

Nine goals in 18 league games is an incredibly worrying statistic for Davidson, especially when coupled with leakier defensive displays.

What they said

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst: "We started really well, created some good chances to go 1-0 up, but didn't turn the chances into goals. Scoring just before half-time was very important and second-half we could play how we wanted a little bit more."

St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson: "I thought we were going to hold on to half-time, and you always give yourself a chance. But the timing of the goal and the way we lost the ball. We're in possession in the middle of the pitch, we lose the ball, corner, goal. That was a hard one to take for me."

What's next?

Rangers are at home on Saturday to Dundee United (15:00 GMT), while St Johnstone are away to Motherwell at the same time.



Formation 4-3-3

  • 1McGregor
  • 2Tavernier
  • 6Goldson
  • 3Bassey
  • 31BarisicSubstituted forPattersonat 79'minutes
  • 17Aribo
  • 18Kamara
  • 37ArfieldBooked at 58mins
  • 7Hagi
  • 20Morelos
  • 14KentSubstituted forSakalaat 68'minutes


  • 4Lundstram
  • 15Simpson
  • 16Patterson
  • 22Bacuna
  • 23Wright
  • 30Sakala
  • 33McLaughlin

St Johnstone

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 1Clark
  • 2Brown
  • 6GordonBooked at 46mins
  • 4McCartBooked at 80mins
  • 19Rooney
  • 34ButterfieldSubstituted forBrysonat 79'minutes
  • 26CraigBooked at 72mins
  • 3Devine
  • 21Crawford
  • 11O'HalloranSubstituted forSolomon-Otaborat 68'minutes
  • 17VertainenSubstituted forMayat 45'minutes


  • 5Dendoncker
  • 7May
  • 12Parish
  • 13Bryson
  • 16Muller
  • 24Booth
  • 27Solomon-Otabor
Euan Anderson

Match Stats

Home TeamRangersAway TeamSt Johnstone
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Rangers 2, St. Johnstone 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Rangers 2, St. Johnstone 0.

  3. Post update

    Ianis Hagi (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Craig Bryson (St. Johnstone).

  5. Post update

    Attempt saved. Liam Craig (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Alister Crawford.

  6. Post update

    Attempt missed. Scott Arfield (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by James Tavernier.

  7. Post update

    Attempt missed. Fashion Sakala (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Glen Kamara.

  8. Post update

    Attempt saved. Alfredo Morelos (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Scott Arfield with a through ball.

  9. Post update

    Offside, St. Johnstone. Liam Gordon tries a through ball, but Stevie May is caught offside.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Scott Arfield (Rangers).

  11. Post update

    Stevie May (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  12. Post update

    Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Jamie McCart.

  13. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Ianis Hagi (Rangers) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Alfredo Morelos.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Connor Goldson (Rangers).

  15. Post update

    Viv Solomon-Otabor (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  16. Booking

    Jamie McCart (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  17. Post update

    Ianis Hagi (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Jamie McCart (St. Johnstone).

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Rangers. Nathan Patterson replaces Borna Barisic because of an injury.

  20. Substitution

    Substitution, St. Johnstone. Craig Bryson replaces Jacob Butterfield.

As It Stood

4Dundee Utd187471519-425
9St Mirren183961829-1118
11Ross County173592331-814
12St Johnstone17359918-914
View full Scottish Premiership table

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