Livingston 0-3 Rangers: 37 down, one to go - how champions stayed on course for invincible league campaign

Thirty-seven down, one to go. Rangers are now just 90 minutes away from completing a momentous Premiership season in unbeaten, landmark-setting style.

Rangers captain James Tavernier celebrates his 19th goal of the season after opening the scoring in his team's 3-0 win at Livingston.  (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)
Rangers captain James Tavernier celebrates his 19th goal of the season after opening the scoring in his team's 3-0 win at Livingston. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

In their penultimate fixture, goals from James Tavernier, Ryan Kent and Ianis Hagi earned a victory at Livingston which took their points tally to 99. That’s a new club record for a 38-game top flight season, eclipsing the 97 racked up by Alex McLeish’s treble winners in 2002-03.

Steven Gerrard’s side can break through the century mark on Saturday with a draw or win against Aberdeen at Ibrox.

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The opportunity to record only the fourth undefeated top flight league-title winning campaign in Scottish football history remains a powerful motivation for Rangers as they prepare to collect the Premiership trophy.

Ianis Hagi is sent sprawling by Livingston goalkeeper Max Stryjek for the penalty kick which gave Rangers the breakthrough in West Lothian. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)
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For Livingston, now with just one win from their last 11 games, their hopes of a fifth place finish and possible European qualification rest on their last day trip to St Johnstone.

With injuries and suspensions seeing Rangers only able to name six of their permitted nine substitutes, there was inevitably an element of improvisation to Gerrard’s team selection in West Lothian with Joe Aribo filling an unfamiliar left-back role.

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It remained a strong starting line-up nonetheless and the visitors dominated possession throughout.

Aribo had few defensive duties to concern himself with and was able to surge forward at will in support of his team’s efforts to find a way through Livingston’s typically well-drilled back line.

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Clever link-up play from Aribo and Alfredo Morelos carved the hosts open for the first time midway through the first half but Kent was unable to connect on the edge of the six yard box.

Livingston did threaten on the counter-attack, notably through the lively Josh Mullin who forced the first save of the night from Jon McLaughlin who made a rare start in goal for Rangers.

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Hagi appeared eager to make an impact but the gifted Romanian playmaker can be guilty of seeking too much time on the ball, a luxury rarely afforded by this Livingston side.

But Hagi did find space to fizz a shot narrowly wide of Max Stryjek’s right hand post from almost 30 yards before playing a key role in the penalty which gave Rangers the breakthrough.

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Glen Kamara and Kemar Roofe combined to send Hagi clear on goal and he was taken out by the advancing Stryjek who was booked. Tavernier made no mistake from the spot, drilling it low and hard beyond Stryjek’s right hand into the corner for his 19th goal of the season.

In a scrappier second half, Rangers doubled their lead in the 57th minute when Kent latched onto Tavernier’s through ball and exchanged passes with Morelos before beating Stryjek from close range.

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Livingston substitute Jaze Kabia lodged a contender for miss of the season when he hit the post from close range before Hagi wrapped up a solid night’s work for Rangers with a composed finish from Cedric Itten’s cutback seven minutes from time.

Livingston (4-2-3-1): Stryjek, Devlin, Fitzwater (Ambrose 85), Guthrie, Longridge; Holt (Bartley 60), Diani; Sibbald (McMillan 60), Pittman, Mullin (Kabia 60); Emmanuel-Thomas (Poplatnik 74). Subs not used: Maley, Forrest, Serrano, Lithgow.

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Rangers (4-3-3): McLaughlin, Tavernier, Goldson, Simpson, Aribo (King 86); Hagi (Stewart 86), Davis, Kamara; Roofe (Itten 80), Morelos (Defoe 80), Kent (Wright 84). Subs not used: McGregor.

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