Craig Fowler gives his take after Rangers are held to a frustrating goalless draw at Ibrox.
Not clinical enough
The home side were in control for large parts of this match, which makes it all the more frustrating that they failed to find a breakthrough. In the first half it was their crossing that lacked accuracy, with James Tavernier uncharacteristically guilty of wasting opportunities to get quality deliveries into the penalty box. Things improved on that front in the second period, but this time it was the finishing that was absent. While Eros Grezda lay on the deck, and the Ibrox crowd screamed for a penalty, Tavernier had the chance to make it all academic but, again uncharacteristically, chose to side-foot instead of putting his foot through it, sending the ball high over the bar. Grezda then did likewise with the last kick of the game.
Jack showed his worth
The midfielder tired as the game went on, but Ryan Jack’s ability to link midfield and attack, and keep his composure in tight areas with pressure coming, really helped the home midfield dominate in the opening period as they registered more than 60 per cent possession. With Scott Arfield and Graham Dorrans out, Steven Gerrard has been a little light on midfield options of late. Jack coming in and immediately returning to form is a welcome boost.
Morelos lifts Rangers
There’s a lot of talent in this Rangers team, but it’s highly doubtful they’d be competing to this extent on the continent if it weren’t for the Colombian striker. As usual, his link-up play was excellent and he continually provided a spark in the final third. The best example of his true worth came after a ten-minute spell where Spartak were on top. Receiving the ball around 35 yards from goal with no help around, he took off – charging at the defence. Though his eventual shot was blocked by the defence, this piece of play lifted a nervous crowd and Rangers were fully on top once more.
Is Kent the answer?
Rangers will go into Sunday’s clash with Aberdeen at Hampden without either Morelos or back-up striker Kyle Lafferty to choose from. Umar Sadiq has failed to impress and hasn’t been seen since August, so it’s unlikely he’ll play up top either. The likely choice, it would seem, would be winger Ryan Kent. The on-loan Liverpool trickster has operated through the centre before, and did so for the final 20 minutes against Spartak, although in a deeper role. He definitely has the quality to make things happen – as shown by his elusive late slalom past two Russian defenders. It’s up to Rangers to work out how best to unleash that against the Dons.