Rangers sealed their place in the quarter-final of the Betfred Cup with a 3-0 win over East Fife at New Bayview – but Steven Gerrard won’t have been too pleased with the manner of the win despite the comfortable scoreline.
There was an early penalty shout for Rangers when Jordan Jones went down under the challenge of Stewart Murdoch in the box but referee Don Robertson saw nothing in it and waved play on.
Murdoch was lucky to get away with it as replays showed him pushing the Gers winger in the back as he surged away from the defender.
Gerrard’s side dominated possession but were far too slack at times and almost gifted the Fifers a shock lead when Aaron Dunsmore forced a solid save from Wes Foderingham.
The Gers eventually made their dominance matter through Jermain Defoe when the veteran hitman opened the scoring after 26 minutes.
Jermain Defoe = goals 🔥
That first touch to get away from the defender 😍
36 years young and still as lethal as ever! pic.twitter.com/ecXxfgtlXK
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) August 18, 2019
Darren Young’s side made things difficult for the Gers as they kicked them up and down the pitch with little protection from the referee, but it never looked as though the hosts never looked like scoring.
With ten minutes played in the second half, Helander made it 2-0 when he headed home Jones’ knockdown.
Greg Stewart’s free-kick was headed into Helander’s path with the defender bundling the ball into the net.
The Swede was soon to be joined by two more Rangers debutants as Andy King and Brandon Barker both made their first appearances for the Gers, replacing Greg Docherty and Stewart.
Joe Aribo almost got his name on the scoresheet after showing some lovely skill before sending his chance just wide of the upright.
The second goal killed the game off – if it wasn’t already – but Rangers really should’ve made it much easier than it was.
After lots of huffing and puffing, Rangers made it 3-0 through Aribo but had the East Fife keeper to thank after his punched clearance went straight up into the air.
Once it eventually hit the ground, Aribo pounced and fired into the net and put a little shine on a pretty poor performance overall.
Here’s how Steven Gerrard’s side performed against the Fifers:
Wes Foderingham – 6
Smart save from Dunsmore in the first-half and another late on but very little involvement otherwise. Will be happy enough with a clean sheet.
Matt Polster – 6
Got up and down the right flank and showed good energy although his final ball let him down at times. Reasonable enough performace but nothing that’ll make Gerrard consider a prolonged run in the side for him.
George Edmundson – 6
Solid enough performance and got away with one early in the second half when there was a big shout for handball. Didn’t have huge amounts to do defensively but looked composed when he did.
Filip Helander – 7
Swedish international made his competitive debut for the Gers and took a little bit to get used to his surroundings but grew into the game. Set up Jermain Defoe for the opener before grabbing a goal of his own.
Andy Halliday – 5
Really poor performance from the stand-in captain. Gave the ball away far too often and kept getting drawn out of position. Needs to do far better if he wants a regular place.
Glen Kamara – 6
Uncharacteristically poor performance from the Finn. Never really got going and looked uncomfortable playing in the deeper role. Hasn’t quite looked himself this season. Improved as the game went on but not at his best.
Greg Docherty – 6
Docherty worked hard and showed a few flashes before being replaced by Andy King. Needs to do more if he’s want to force his way ahead of the likes of Ryan Jack and Steven Davis. Will benefit from getting regular minutes from the bench.
Joe Aribo – 8
Best performer in midfield but it wasn’t a brilliant afternoon for the Gers engine-room overall. Showed plenty of tenacity to win the ball back consistently in a congested midfield and used it intelligently. Always availablefor a pass. Grabbed the third goal late on.
Jordan Jones – 7
The Northern Irish international should have been awarded an early penalty after being fouled by Murdoch. Jones was Rangers’ bigest attacking threat and caused problems for the East Fife full-backs. Replaced by Jake Hastie.
Greg Stewart – 6
Decent afternoon from the forward and worked hard down the right with Polster. Tried to make things happen going forward but didn’t have as much influence on the game as he would’ve liked. Replaced by Brandon Barker
Jermain Defoe – 7
Seeing Defoe playing against East Fife at Bayview was a bit surreal but the veteran striker got his obligatory goal as he troubled the Fifers’ defence all afternoon. Could, and probably should, have scored more.
Substitutes: Andy King; Brandon Barker; Jake Hastie