Rangers started off a potentially season-defining eight days with a win against St. Mirren as Steven Gerrard’s side ground out a win against a stuffy Buddies side.

The Gers made five changes from the midweek draw with Legia as Filip Helander, Borna Barisic, Glen Kamara, Jordan Jones and Jermain Defoe came into the starting XI.

WARSAW, POLAND - AUGUST 22: Allan McGregor of Rangers FC in action 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)

Defoe had a fantastic chance to open the scoring after four minutes when St. Mirren’s attempt to play him offside failed but the veteran striker couldn’t get his shot inside the near post.

Rangers looked confident on the ball going forward and looked to break the deadlock early as they started a massive eight-day spell ahead of games with Legia and Celtic.

Scott Arfield spent long spells of the first half essentially playing as a second striker alongside Defoe, sacrificing some of the defensive work he usually does so well, to try and link up with the Englishman.

Despite having plenty of possession, the Gers struggled to really breakdown a well-organised St. Mirren side and there was a scare for the Gers 30 minutes in when a cross from the right caught McGregor by surprise and hit the crossbar.

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The Gers continued to push forward looking for a goal before the break but were struggling to carve out any clear-cut chances to test the Buddies’ keeper.

Arfield was next to go close as he timed his run perfectly to meet Tavernier’s cross only for it to hit off the keeper in the face and go clear.

The breakthrough finally came after an hour and it was well worth the wait for Rangers as Borna Barisic scored a fantastic free-kick from distance.

The Croatian international put it right into the top right-hand corner leaving the St. Mirren keeper, who had been their best player, helpless.

Soon after the goal, Gerrard made his first change of the afternoon as Steven Davis replaced the disappointing Jordan Jones.

Davis’ introduction saw Aribo moved into a more advanced role and given a bit more freedom in front of the trio of Davis, Jack and Kamara and find holes in the Saints’ defence.

Defoe has another opportunity to get his goal when Tavernier played him in expertly behind Gary McKenzie but Defoe’s shot couldn’t hit the target – with the veteran replaced by Alfredo Morelos after.

WARSAW, POLAND - AUGUST 22: Steven Gerrard head coach of Rangers FC 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 Rafal Oleksiewicz/PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images)

The Colombian looked hungry to grab his tenth goal of the season and almost got it five minutes after coming on using his strength in the box to find space before hitting the target with a shot that was saved by Hladky.

 

There was a nervy finale as referee Kevin Clancy bizarrely added six minutes on just as St. Mirren had their best chance of the game but the Gers were good value for their win.

Here’s how Rangers performed at the Simple Digital Arena against St. Mirren:

Allan McGregor – 6

Barely involved although almost caught out as a St. Mirren cross hit the bar after 30 minutes. Will have had plenty of time to work on his suntan.

James Tavernier – 7

Much more effective going forward and fired a number of dangerous crosses into the St. Mirren box. Rarely needed defensively and posed a real threat to the Buddies.

Connor Goldson – 6

Solid performance from the defender. St. Mirren barely came out of their half so had little to do defensively. Looked comfortable beside Helander.

Filip Helander – 6

First league start for the Swede and he’s starting to show the class that led the Gers to spend £3m on him. Still got a little bit to go but looks a really tidy player.

Borna Barisic – 7

Started in the league for the first time since the opening day and was having a solid enough afternoon before scoring a phenomenal free-kick. Hopefully that can help kick-start his Rangers career.

Glen Kamara – 6

Composed performance from the Finn as the Gers dominated the ball against a stubborn St. Mirren. Used the ball well and showed his intelligence in possession throughout with some classy touches to create a bit of space for himself.

Ryan Jack – 8

Keeps getting better and better. Shows absolutely no sign of fatigue either despite it seeming like he’s played every minute. 50th league appearance for Rangers.

Joe Aribo – 7

The midfielder had a couple of early slack passes but grew into the game and put in another impressive performance. Pushed further forward later on and caused a lot of problems for the St. Mirren defence.

Jordan Jones – 6

Struggled to really get involved in the game and was replaced by Steven Davis for the last 25 minutes as the Gers looked to secure the win.

Scott Arfield – 6

Effectively played as a second striker for long spells and wasn’t as effective as he usually is. Unlucky to be denied by the St. Mirren keeper’s face in the first half.

Jermain Defoe – 7

The veteran striker had a great chance to open the scoring but shot wide. Typical hard-working performance from the striker but couldn’t get as many chances as he would’ve liked. Replaced by Morelos.

Substitutes: Steven Davis – Northern Irish skipper replaced Jones and added some extra quality in midfield. Alfredo Morelos – Replaced Defoe and almost scored. Andy King – Given the last five minutes or so.

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