Fabio Silva opened his Rangers account as the Light Blues edged even closer to cinch Premiership leaders Celtic with a convincing 3-0 win over bottom side Livingston.
The Hoops’ 1-1 draw at Aberdeen at lunchtime had the early arrivals at Ibrox cheering the news before kick-off although it took some time before the visitors succumbed to the pressure.
The road to an expected home win began when the 21-year-old Portuguese striker, who arrived on loan from Wolves last month, prised open the Livi defence in the 40th minute before winger Rabbi Matondo added a second in first-half added time.
Liv, without a win in 15 previous league games, had no response and Gers midfielder Todd Cantwell knocked in a third in the 56th minute and it could have been more as Philippe Clement’s side moved three points behind leaders Celtic with a game in hand.
The Belgian boss, mindful of a busy spell of fixtures coming up, reshuffled his pack from last week’s win at St Mirren, making six changes
Borna Barisic, Leon Balogun, Ryan Jack, Ross McCausland, Silva and Matondo came in, with Ridvan Yilmaz, John Souttar, Nicolas Raskin, Dujon Sterling, Scott Wright and Cyriel Dessers dropping out with new signing, Colombian winger Oscar Cortes, starting on the bench.
David Carson was handed his debut for the visitors after signing from Inverness with goalkeeper Shamal George, Shaun Donnellan and Mo Sangare reinstated for what proved to be a tough afternoon.
George palmed away a powerful drive from Jack and then clawed away a goal-bound corner from Gers skipper James Tavernier as Rangers pressed from referee John Beaton’s first whistle.
In the 14th minute Livi survived a melee yards from goal after George had fumbled a Barisic cross before Balogun had to be replaced by Souttar six minutes later after sustaining a head knock.
The sound of impatient grumbling from the stands grew louder before the Light Blues broke the deadlock.
Matondo’s powerful strike was brilliantly tipped over the bar by George but from the resultant Barisic corner, hooked back towards goal by Connor Goldson, the ball fell to Silva and his deflected strike from eight yards found the net – the goal standing after a VAR check for a possible foul in the busy penalty area.
When Matondo’s long-distance effort after stepping inside on to his right foot clipped Jamie Brandon and sped past George in the second of four added minutes, the points were secure.
Livi had twice come from behind to draw with second-bottom Ross County on Tuesday night but their attacking threat against Rangers was all-but absent.
Cantwell confidently turned a Ross McCausland cut-back past the helpless George from 12 yards for his fourth goal in seven games.
Gers fans got the chance to see 20-year-old Cortes, on loan from Lens, when he came on in the 60th minute along with fellow substitutes Tom Lawrence and Yilmaz.
George twice denied McCausland and Silva’s hitch-kick from 10 yards went inches past the post as Rangers attacked incessantly to increase their lead.
Dessers, on for Silva, flashed a shot high over the bar with 10 minutes remaining and Yilmaz cracked the bar with an effort from the edge of the box but Rangers had to settle for three goals.
Notwithstanding the calibre of opposition, it was another commanding win for the Light Blues who now have Celtic in their sights.