Rangers were dominant against Dundee United at Ibrox this afternoon as they extended their unbeaten start to the season with a 4-0 win and set a new domestic record for consecutive clean sheets to start the season with seven – but there will be serious concerns for Steven Gerrard after the Gers suffered an incredible four injuries over the course of the afternoon.
Gerrard made one change to his side from the win over Hamilton before the international break, swapping Leon Balogun for Filip Helander in central defence however the Nigerian pulled up with a knock during the warm-up and Helander ended up starting.
The visitors immediately tried to make things difficult for the Gers by packing the midfield and forcing the Rangers players to try something different to break them down and find a way to goal.
There was an early blow for Gerrard’s side when Ryan Jack went down with nobody near him, signalling that his game was already over to be replaced by Glen Kamara.
Just a few minutes later, August’s player of the Month Ryan Kent opened the scoring as the Gers found a way through the visitors and the Ibrox star coolly finished from inside the penalty box.
After some nice play between Kent and Borna Barisic, the Gers winger played a lovely give-and-go with Ianis Hagi on the edge of the area before firing beyond Siegrist.
With less than 20 minutes played, there was a third injury blow for Gerrard’s side as Brandon Barker pulled up with a hamstring injury to join Jack and Balogun in the treatment room.
Barker’s injury provided an opportunity for Alfredo Morelos to be introduced after the Colombian put in extra work at the training ground during the international break.
El Bufalo almost had an immediate impact, coming close to setting up Roofe for the second goal of the afternoon but the linesman’s flag shot up to deny the Rangers striker from close range.
As the game started to settle into a rhythm, it looked clear that United had little interest in trying to make a game of it as they sat deep and tried to frustrate Rangers and avoid conceding again before the break.
The Gers continued to pile on the pressure though and kept Micky Mellon’s side pinned back in their own penalty area as the Light Blues dominated possession.
The second goal wasn’t long in coming as the pressure told on the United defence and it was captain James Tavernier who got on the scoresheet after converting Barisic’s cross from close range.
It was nothing more than Rangers deserved as Gerrard’s side regularly flooded forward in search of goals and gave the Light Blues a comfortable cushion at the break.
It only took a few minutes from the restart for Rangers to almost make it 3-0 when Roofe’s strike was charged down after some nice work by the impressive Tavernier.
Kent really should have made it 3-0 after 54 minutes when Roofe slipped Morelos in behind the defence and the Colombian unselfishly played it across goal.
The Colombian took a really sore one just afterwards when there was an outrageous challenge on the Colombian which left him needing a stretcher off the pitch and a nasty gash on his leg.
Incredibly, Kevin Clancy only saw fit to speak to Borna Barisic.
There was simply no rationale behind the referee not taking any action whatsoever and it was clearly deserving of a red card.
That led to the final changes of the afternoon for Rangers as Barisic and Morelos were replaced by Calvin Bassey and Scott Arfield for the final 30 minutes.
The third goal seemed inevitable and the Light Blues had a number of chances in a matter of seconds through Hagi and Bassey as United clung on for dear life.
Despite the host of changes and breaks in play for changes, Rangers still had the bit between their teeth and should have been out of sight with United struggling to offer anything meaningful in attack.
Just before the 70th minute, it was 3-0 thanks to Roofe – although there needs to be a big thanks given to Arfield after the Canadian international’s goalbound shot was fired home by Roofe.
The chances kept coming for Rangers with Bassey and Arfield, in particular, looking dangerous going forward as Gerrard’s subs had a big impact on the game.
Arfield finally got his goal in the final minutes when he swept home Hagi’s perfectly weighted pass from 17 yards as the Canada skipper hit the net for the first time since February.
There was a late scare when Ian Harke’s effort crashed an effort off the bar as the Gers came as close to conceding as they have all season but they avoided the danger when the follow-up was ballooned over the top.
Attention will now turn to Thursday’s clash with Lincoln Red Imps but there will be some real concern over the four injured players and whether any will make the trip to Gibraltar.
Rangers: McLaughlin, Tavernier, Helander, Goldson, Barisic (Bassey 58′) Hagi, Jack (Kamara 11′), Davis, Kent, Barker (Morelos 23′ (Arfield 58′)), Roofe.
Unused subs: Firth, Edmundson, Itten, Patterson, Stewart,