Rangers thrashed Aberdeen 5-0 at Ibrox to close the gap at the top of the Scottish Premiership to one point as Steven Gerrard’s side put in their best performance of the season so far.

The Gers made three changes from the side that faced against Livingston in midweek with Katic, Steven Davis and Greg Stewart replacing Filip Helander, Joe Aribo and Glen Kamara in the starting XI.

WARSAW, POLAND - AUGUST 22: James Tavernier of Rangers FC passes the ball during the UEFA Europa League Play Off First Leg match between Legia Warsaw and Rangers FC on August 22, 2019 in Warsaw, Poland.

(Photo by PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images)

Sheyi Ojo had Rangers’ best early chance when the on-loan Liverpool man was picked out expertly by Davis’ clever ball over the top, leaving the Englishman in behind the Aberdeen defence, but he couldn’t get his shot right and wasted the opportunity.

Bobby Madden had done a good job of upsetting the Rangers fans as he ignored several pushes on Gers players but had no option but to point to the spot when Alfredo Morelos was brought down.

James Tavernier stepped up and masterfully slotted the spot-kick away to leave Joe Lewis with no chance and fire the Gers into a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.

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Morelos almost doubled the advantage a minute later when Ryan Jack’s fantastic reverse pass found the Colombian in space but Lewis managed to take the sting out of his before it was cleared.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 29: Alfredo Morelos of Rangers celebrates scoring the winning goal during the UEFA Europa League Play Off First Leg match between Rangers FC and Legia Warsaw at Ibrox Stadium on August 29, 2019 in Glasgow, United Kingdom.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

After dominating the first half, Greg Stewart made it 2-0 five minutes before the break after the striker’s header was initially saved brilliantly by Lewis before the boyhood Gers fan tapped home the rebound to cap off a fantastic opening 45 minutes.

It only took five minutes after the restart for the Gers to make it 3-0 as Morelos grabbed a well-deserved goal as he got on the end of Borna Barisic’s cross and nodded the ball beyond Lewis.

With a comfortable lead, Gerrard opted to experiment a little as there was a rare sighting of Morelos and Jermain Defoe on the pitch together after the veteran replaced Sheyi Ojo with 30 minutes remaining.

There was a lucky escape for Aberdeen as Scott Arfield was denied at close-range twice in the space of seconds before the Morelos/Defoe partnership was brought to an end as the Colombian was replaced by Brandon Barker.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JULY 18: Greg Stewart of Rangers in action during the UEFA Europa League First Qualifying round 2nd Leg match between Rangers and St Joseph at Ibrox Stadium on July 18, 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland.

 (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Tavernier was given a chance to double his lead moments later when Stewart was downed by Greg Leigh and Bobby Madden pointed to the spot again – with the same outcome as before.

If Aberdeen hadn’t given up by now, they were waving the white flag after 80 minutes when Defoe grabbed his ninth goal of the season when he was first to react to Arfield’s brilliant pass and got the ball up and over Lewis to make it five without reply.

Here’s how Steven Gerrard’s side performed as they attempted to close the gap to Celtic to a single point:

Allan McGregor – 6

At this rate McGregor can play on until he’s 50. Biggest worry in the first half was a Niko Katic pass. Only reason he got a six was because of how little he was involved in anything.

 

James Tavernier – 8

The skipper took on a slightly more defensive role again but stepped up to open the scoring after Morelos was hauled down. Some incredibly teasing crosses and another really impressive display from Tav. Second goal from the spot to make it 4-0 as the Gers ran riot.

Stewart almost grabbed a second of his own after some really intelligent interplay with Scott Arfield but couldn’t get his effort to curl inside the post with Lewis rooted to the spot.

Connor Goldson – 7

Composed performance from the former Brighton star – aided by Aberdeen’s refusal to attack in the opening 45. Helped Niko Katic over his early wobbles as the Gers kept yet another clean sheet.

Niko Katic – 7

Looked a little bit nervy early on and crazy pass-back left McGregor in trouble shortly after Tavernier opened the scoring. Grew in confidence as the game went on and looked much more like the usual Niko Katic.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Borna Barisic of Rangers vies with Chris Kane of St Johnstone during the Ladbrookes Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and St Johnstone at Ibrox Stadium on February 16, 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Borna Barisic – 7

It looks as though the Croatian has finally found  a bit of consistency in his form as he put in another decent shift. Spent long spells camped in Aberdeen’s half and his fantastic cross for Morelos set up the third goal. Long may it continue and, on this form, it is easy to see why he’s first-choice for Croatia.

Ryan Jack – 8

Brilliant performance from the former Aberdeen star as the Gers midfield trio dictated the tempo and ran the show for Steven Gerrard’s side. A repeat on Thursday would be very welcome when the Gers face Young Boys. Covered every blade of glass and barely gave the ball away as the Gers ran riot.

Scott Arfield – 8

Moved back into a deeper role and helped Davis and Jack dominate the game and run the show for Rangers. Arfield’s versatility makes an already incredibly-important player even more important for Rangers. The amount of work Arfield does for the team is phenomenal.

Steven Davis – 9

An absolute masterclass from the veteran as he controlled Aberdeen as the Gers midfield trio excelled.Northern Irish skipper was head and shoulders above the Dons midfield as he sprayed balls around with ease. Outstanding performance. Replaced late on by George Edmundson.

Greg Stewart – 8

Grabbed his first goal for Rangers and done his chances of more regular game-time no harm with an impressive performance. The attacker linked really well with Morelos and could probably have had two or three. Might come out of the side to face Young Boys but wouldn’t be a surprise to see him against Hamilton next weekend.

Sheyi Ojo – 6

Drifted in and out of the game as Rangers dominated against the Dons. Looked the part when he was involved and massively overshadowed by the performance of others. Replaced by Jermain Defoe after 59 minutes.

Alfredo Morelos – 9

Unplayable. Won the penalty that opened the scoring before hitting the third goal himself. Utterly terrorised the Aberdeen defence as the Colombian continues to add to his reputation. Replaced by Barker after an excellent afternoon’s work. Rangers need to do everything to keep him at Ibrox.

Substitutes: Jermain Defoe (7) Replaced Ojo for the final half an hour and scored to make in 5-0. Brandon Barker (6) Took over from Morelos as he made his return from injury. George Edmundson (6) Introduced late on for Davis as the Gers saw the game out

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