Rangers 6-0 Dunfermline: Morelos bags brace in cup rout

The blue shoots of recovery continued to sprout encouragingly for Pedro Caixinha as Rangers stormed into the last eight of the Betfred Cup with a free-flowing demolition of Dunfermline.

Rangers' Alfredo Morelos celebrates the first of his two goals against Dunfermline. Picture: John Devlin/SNS

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Following their opening weekend Premiership victory at Motherwell, the Ibrox side backed up the positive elements of that performance with this powerful and, at times, dynamic dismissal of their overwhelmed Championship opponents.

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The acid tests of Caixinha’s radically revamped Rangers squad have still to come – the first of them against a buoyant Hibs on Saturday. If nothing else, however, they appear to have had no problems in recovering from the hangover of their mortifying Europa League elimination.

From the moment the evergreen Kenny Miller fired them into a fifth minute lead, it was clear Rangers meant business here. Just 22 minutes later, they were 4-0 up as Bruno Alves and Alfredo Morelos claimed their first goals for the club and James Tavernier helped himself to his first in almost a year.

Daniel Candeias got in on the act in the second half, also grabbing his maiden goal following his summer arrival, before Morelos struck again as Caixinha enjoyed his biggest victory since becoming Rangers manager in March.

Although Declan McManus struck the crossbar for Dunfermline in the midst of that opening four-goal blitz, it was generally one-way traffic as Rangers weaved some eye-catching attacking patterns in front of an appreciative home crowd. The loss of captain Lee Wallace during the pre-match warm-up – he was replaced at left-back by Lee Hodson – did nothing to diminish the control Rangers immediately exerted on the tie.

Miller’s opener came after he had played a neat one-two with Morelos who cut the ball back for Graham Dorrans. His shot was well saved by Pars goalkeeper Sean Murdoch but Miller swooped on the rebound to smash home from close range.

Rangers doubled their lead four minutes later as Alves showed there is more to his game than just providing the solidity at the back he was recruited to provide. The big defender assumed responsibility when Pars captain Callum Morris conceded a free-kick with a foul on Morelos on the edge of the box.

Alves probably gets few opportunities to display his set piece technique when he plays alongside Cristiano Ronaldo for Portugal but even the Ballon d’Or winner would have admired the sumptuous right-foot strike which beat Murdoch high to his right.

Jak Alnwick, making only his second appearance in goal for Rangers, had a break from spectating when he was relieved to see McManus’ cleverly struck free-kick smack off his crossbar.

Rangers responded by making it 3-0 in the 23rd minute. Candeias burst clear down the right and his cross was helped on by Miller into the path of Morelos who finished well with his left foot from a tight angle. The Colombian striker was booked for his exuberant celebration which saw him submerged among a group of fans behind the goal.

Dunfermline were simply being overwhelmed and the fourth goal soon arrived. Dorrans and Miller combined to set up the chance for Tavernier who drilled a right foot shot beyond the beleaguered Murdoch from close range.

The horse had well and truly bolted as far as Allan Johnston was concerned but the Pars manager attempted to shut the stable door nonetheless, withdrawing David Hopkirk and sending on Jean-Yves M’Voto as he switched to a five-man backline.

It was a case of damage limitation for the visitors now and the change of shape did succeed in plugging some of the gaps. But Rangers showed no inclination to ease off in the second half. Their fifth goal came from another set piece. With Alves having just departed, his work for the evening done as he was replaced by Danny Wilson, it was his compatriot Candeias who stepped forward to curl a fine right foot effort around the wall and into the top corner.

There was no respite for the visitors who were given a fresh problem to contend with when Niko Kranjcar was introduced to the action as Miller’s replacement.

The final whistle couldn’t come quickly enough for Dunfermline or the admirable number of their supporters who resisted the temptation of making an early exit. Their misery continued when Rangers made it 6-0 with 15 minutes remaining.

Tavernier saw his shot parried by Murdoch into the path of Morelos who bundled home his second goal of the night.