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Rangers’ Ryan Kent (left) celebrates his team’s first goal in the Scottish Premiership match at Ibrox with James Tavernier
The finish line is still in sight, but the Rangers continue to take small steps in that direction. Another game can be crossed out if another win is recorded.
The international break has not disturbed the momentum for Steven Gerrard’s side. The truth is, there has been very little so far this season and the win over Aberdeen was as routine as they’d hoped as they picked up from where they left off.
That wasn’t as emphatic as the 8-0 win over Hamilton, but that win – thanks to goals from Ryan Kent, Kemar Roofe, Scott Arfield and James Tavernier – was just as important to Rangers. The two games Celtic has in hand need to be considered, but an 11 point lead matters to Rangers, as does the way they do their business so impressively these days.
The Rangers couldn’t pass up the opportunity to expand their advantage at the top of the Premiership by double digits. However, the focus remains on what they do, rather than the fate of their Old Firm rivals, if they focus on themselves.
The news of Celtic’s Easter Road draw would no doubt have been very welcome on Saturday afternoon, but it would have been redundant if the Rangers hadn’t taken care of business at Ibrox. That’s exactly what they did.
The one game at a time mantra may be used in somewhat clichéd terms these days, but the messages Gerrard emphasizes are repeated over and over by his squad. A change in mindset and increased levels of determination have been noted in this term, and pairings – even potentially tricky ones like this one – are approached with serenity and confidence.
Gerrard’s side has a different feel right now and they play with a certainty and serenity that suggests that this time they could go the distance.
When games like this are done so professionally and with relative ease it becomes difficult to keep the expectations and excitement in check, but no one at Ibrox, in or out of the park, can afford to have so much work left to do come to be done.
The game wasn’t quite won at break, but the Rangers were well on their way thanks to Kent – who should have opened the standings within four minutes since Joe Lewis turned him down – and the constantly improving and impressive Roofe.
The followers had eagerly awaited to see these two, fully fit and firing, along with Alfredo Morleos during the Ibrox attack, and they would get their wish here. While Morelos was a frustrating figure at times, both sides were superb in terms of their movement and vision, especially in advance of their respective goals 15 minutes apart.
The touch from Kent seeing him Nutmeg Funso Ojo was great, as was Roofe when he was collecting a Dink Over the Top from Connor Goldson. Keeper Lewis was helpless on both occasions but the goals were more than deserved for Rangers.
Kent’s punch distracted Thomas Hoban and turned away from Lewis, while Roofe, after a fair amount of footwork, worked hard to make his way into the area.
It was defining moments, but not the only impressive ones, of Rangers as they moved the ball on purpose and it was entertaining and exciting again to watch.
If referee Nick Walsh hadn’t inexplicably waved off criminal complaints when Ojo wiped out Roofe, the game could well have been beyond the dons during the break.
The exhausted ranks that Derek McInnes could line up had grown into the encounter and threatened with sporadic spells. Sam Cosgrove and Ryan Hedges were tightly turned down by Allan McGregor, while Goldson’s block with impeccably timing refused Hedges when the Rangers were exposed.
The absence of Lewis Ferguson, Ross McCrorie and Connor McLennan had undoubtedly hampered Aberdeen’s chances here, and McInnes’ anger was well placed. His squad was usually dedicated but would never scare the Rangers and deny them another Premiership win.
McInnes must have felt his luck ran out before a ball was kicked thanks to the injury and Covid issues he had to deal with. When Arfield scored three hits with a deflected hit that hit Shay Logan and left Lewis on the wrong foot, the Pittodrie boss must have known it would only be one of those days.
Minutes later, the number 13 was unlucky for Rangers when Tavernier moved onto that list for the season. Walsh noticed the breach this time when Andy Considine wrestled Leon Balogun and Tavernier converted on the spot to emphasize the Rangers’ dominance.
More goals could and should have been scored for Rangers but they were not needed on this occasion as the points were conveniently accumulated. As for the habits, it’s best of all for Rangers.
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World news – GB – Rangers 4-0 Aberdeen: Steven Gerrard’s side extend their lead in the Premier League with a dominant Ibrox win
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