First half goals from Scott Wright and Alfredo Morelos secured a seventh consecutive league win for the reigning champions under Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s management as St Mirren were comprehensively overcome at Ibrox.
On an afternoon when Rangers goalkeeper did not have a single save to make, the only complaint van Bronckhorst could have was that his team were so wasteful with the amount of chances they created.
St Mirren had produced an heroic defensive effort to repel Celtic four days later but it soon became clear a repeat of that unlikely clean sheet would be beyond them here.
While Jim Goodwin was able to name a much stronger starting line-up as his squad emerged from the Covid issues which had prompted his unsuccessful request to have both festive fixtures against the Old Firm clubs postponed, they were under the cosh from the opening exchanges as Rangers hungrily and impressively went about the task of resetting their advantage in the title race.
Saints captain Joe Shaughnessy, outstanding against Celtic, made a brilliant block to deny Morelos in the third minute before the Colombian striker then headed over from close range.
The early breakthrough Rangers craved arrived in the 14th minute. For all of the incisive and well constructed attacks the champions put together throughout the afternoon, Saints would rue the fact they were undone by a set piece.
James Tavernier’s corner from the right was helped on by Joe Aribo for Wright whose powerful downward header crossed the line before Jak Alnwick clawed the ball back out.
Alnwick was a busy man on his return to Ibrox and the former Rangers ‘keeper did well to keep out a stinging long range effort from Tavernier as the hosts maintained a relentless degree of pressure.
The lead was doubled in the 26th minute when Alnwick again reacted smartly to parry Morelos’ header from a magnificent Borna Barisic cross but was helpless to prevent the striker smashing the loose ball high into the net.
Morelos has been revitalised since van Bronckhorst’s arrival. He has now scored six goals in his last eight games but he should have truly filled his boots here.
Chances continued to come and go for Rangers with Morelos passing up more of them than most. Rangers were perhaps also guilty of over-playing at times in the attacking third, although some of their football was unquestionably pleasing on the eye and fully appreciated by the 500 fans who had secured the opportunity to be in attendance.
Wright came closest to adding a third goal in the second half when he was unfortunate to see an effort rebound off Alnwick’s right hand post after a delightful weaving run into the box had created the opening.
Rangers (4-3-3): McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Bassey, Barisic; Hagi (Sakala 68), Kamara, Aribo; Wright, Morelos, Kent (Arfield 68). Subs not used: McLaughlin, Simpson, Patterson, Davis, Bacuna.
St Mirren (5-4-1): Alnwick, Flynn (Offord 80), Fraser, Shaughnessy, Dunne, Tanser; Henderson, Power, Erhahon, McGrath (Kiltie 74); Main (Dennis 56). Subs not used: Lyness, Millar, Reid, Erwin.