Rangers kept up their winning run in the Scottish Premiership as they easily swept aside a beleaguered-looking Livingston at the Toni Macaroni on Sunday lunchtime with minimal fuss.
It was a comfortable afternoon for Rangers, probably more comfortable than they would have imagined coming off the 2-1 victory over Sparta Prague on Thursday evening with a 2-0 scoreline in West Lothian. The goals came in either half. The much-maligned Cyriel Dessers gave Philippe Clement‘s side the lead inside the 26th minute with a scuffed finish that deflected past Shamal George. The goal won’t win any beauty contests but they all count.
Then with 15 minutes to go, James Tavernier made the result safe with his penalty after Mikey Devlin’s handball in the box. It was the skipper’s second opportunity from the spot as he fired his effort in the first half wide of the right-hand post.
What the manager said
The manager spoke to Rangers TV post-match and he said: “It was a mature performance and it’s tricky to play on a synthetic pitch.
“Also, it was a 12 o’clock kick-off after a European success so these are all things that are tricky for the squad and the state of mind of the players as they can be less sharp.
“So I’m really happy with the team that they showed the right mentality because all of the game we were dominant and we didn’t give away anything – and we could have scored more goals than the two.
“For me it is not about starting eleven, it’s about the squad. We are going to need the squad after the international break.
“We will have 12 games in 38 days so it’s going to be a really busy schedule and we will need everyone at their best level.
“Everybody also needs to understand how to run, when to run and what to do with the ball and without the ball and having these connections together.
“We can only do it with a lot of training sessions but also to get experience from the games.”
The top performers
Rangers had a few top performers on the day. Tom Lawrence who came into the side to replace Sam Lammers topped the stats.
The Welshman had 42 touches, registered one assist for the Dessers goal, created five chances (more than any other player), and made two passes into the final third. He also completed 29/37 passes (78%).
While the eye test is still a bit iffy on Cyriel Dessers his stats from this fixture paint him in a good light. He grabbed the opening goal and his shots (3), were all on target. He had the most touches of any player on the park in the opposition box (8), and his xG came in at 0.47.
Defensively, Leon Balogun came out on top when it came to the stats. The big Nigerian defender has been excellent since his return to the side and this continued at Livingston.
He produced nine defensive actions ( the most of any Rangers player), made four ball recoveries, four clearances, three headed clearances and three interceptions.
It was a tough afternoon for those on VAR – they got two of the three big decisions correct.
The disallowed Goldson goal was correct because Dessers, who is in an offside position when the ball is played and then makes a deliberate attempt to play the ball, thus putting the Livingston keeper off before the ball finds its way into the net.
The Ross McCausland penalty in the first half. He’s waiting on the hit from Shamal George, it looks from one angle that he does get caught, but I don’t think it’s enough to warrant a penalty.
The disallowed McCausland goal is the worst of them all. Sima is being held at the back post and then finds his hand on the back of the Livingston defender. So by that logic, there should have been a penalty awarded for the initial foul on Sima, if he then plays advantage it’s a goal for McCausland. The ref and VAR both get that one wrong.