Rangers' rampant win over St Johnstone proves a huge point ahead of facing PSV
Imagine the scenario in which Rangers had been given the weekend off in preparation for their Champions League play-off instead of slamming St Johnstone 4-0 – as was the clamour in certain quarters.
At such an early stage in the campaign, the Ibrox club would have been sure to drop in a cheeky wee behind-closed-doors encounter before welcoming to Govan for Tuesday’s first leg a PSV Eindhoven who were given the weekend to rest up. You know the sort of work-out… one that gives the chance for recent arrivals to build game time and confidence in a quasi-competitive environment in which anything overly strenuous is avoided. Precisely, indeed, akin to the 90-minute stroll Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men enjoyed against their Perth visitors.
Except here was a cakewalk that allowed Rangers to chomp down on the tasty morsels of three crucial league points that didn’t just maintain their perfect record in the cinch Premiership but moved them to the top of it. There was nothing not to like for the home side against a supine opponent.
If you want to talk goals, these were delivered from Malik Tillman and Antonio Colak to follow on from their net-bulging efforts that ensured Rangers completed an historic European turnaround against Union Saint-Gilloise. Colak, indeed, made it three in three, his latest goal gifted to him with a first-timed poke low into the net the result of Drey Wright inexcusably allowing himself to be dispossessed in his own box by Rabbi Matondo.
That was the 50th-minute clincher, but the fact is that Rangers’ impetus and invention from central areas from the off ensured the outcome was wholly predictable even before Tillman broke the deadlock just after the half hour. It was a counter for which the classy schemer, on loan from Bayern Munich, was given the freedom of the St Johnstone box to cushion in a header. James Tavernier proved the provider courtesy of a precise ball swung over from the right.
Van Bronckhorst understandably expressed satisfaction in his team piling it on to their opponents with two goals in the closing 10 minutes, his contentment bolstered by these strikes being bagged by substitutes getting in on the act. Scott Arfield did so by lashing in a Matondo cut-back before he was then the set-up man, firing across goal for Tom Lawrence to smartly turn into the net.
Utilising all five changes, the Rangers manager could still give full 90 minutes to players requiring such exposure. Ben Davies earned a first competitive start that he saw through to the end, while Ryan Jack exhibited the drive he has struggled for in the early weeks of the campaign in a contest he completed.
Callum Davidson’s team didn’t simply roll over, but were guilty of chastening defensive errors that left them, eh, simply chasing shadows for so much of the afternoon. The step-up that will face Rangers in confronting the Eredivisie runners-up in a couple of days is an ginormous one when considering what the fifth-placed team in that set-up last season did to Dundee United. Rangers did all they could in shaping up for their daunting assignment by demonstrating a gulf in class all of their own.
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