Rampant Rangers Rout St Mirren

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By Duncan Wright 

For the second week in succession Rangers lined up against the team starting the day in third place in the Scottish Premiership. The synchronicity with the previous week didn’t stop there as Rangers once again recorded a comprehensive 4-0 victory, in-form striker Antonia Colak bagged a brace and following the game, the Rangers players and supporters could look forward to a midweek fixture versus Liverpool in the Champions League.

Whilst still to find their feet in this season’s Champions League, Rangers league form is continuing to improve and today was evidence of what could be called a comfortable victory. The hosts opened the scoring after only four minutes when the predatory instincts of Croatian striker Colak saw him bundle in Borna Barisic’s shot that had rebounded off the post. Some may think he was lucky, but this was evidence of the Croatian’s natural instinct to be in the right place at the right time.

Following the goal Rangers controlled the opening quarter of the game and scored a deserved second on twenty nine minutes when James Tavernier converted a penalty won by Colak. Following a cross from the right by Tavernier the Croatian reacted quickly in the box and was cleaned out from behind by Saint’s defender Declan Gallacher leaving referee Nick Walsh no option but to point to the spot. Rangers went into the half time break with a well deserved lead.

Rangers continued to dominate in the second half, perhaps without the tempo and urgency shown in the first half, but were still positive in attack. Mantando came close on fifty six minutes when he rattled the post after cutting in from the left but ten minutes later Rangers were given a scare when McGregor was called upon to make an excellent save from O’Hara.

This seemed to be the catalyst for Rangers to increase the pace of their game and on seventy three minutes Colak had his third double in three games with a wonderful goal. The move started with great work from Fashion Sakala driving in from the right, he released Colak who needed only three touches; one to control the ball, one to beat his opponent and one to finish sumptuously with the outside of his right foot.  There was still time for St Mirren to hit the bar with a shot from distance from Main but Rangers had the last word with an excellent team goal finished off by the impressive Sakala in the first minute of injury time.

Whilst Rangers attacking play was at the forefront of all that was good today there is evidence that some of the defensive frailties seen earlier in the season are being eliminated. There appears to be a settled back five emerging with McGregor taking back the number one spot and Ben Davies being the left centred Centre Half that it was clear the team was missing.

Manager Giovanni Van Bronckhurst spoke about Davies and the emergence of Leon King in the post match conference…

“…(Ben Davies) is getting stronger and stronger. I think his performance in midweek was positive and today again positive. It’s good to have him getting stronger and stronger. And then Leon (King) came in for him and was very decent, very controlled. Working together as a back line, with the team, they are getting better.”

The manager also spoke about Fashion Sakala, who was given his first league start of the season by Van Bronckhurst today…

“He’s played well when coming on as a sub, especially in midweek and also against Hearts so we wanted to give him the chance to play from the beginning and he was really good. He did what we expected, and if you use your speed…it makes it so much easier for the team, if the opposition are stretched.”

Sakala himself was his usual effervescent self when in front of the cameras speaking about his relationship with the manager…

“I have a very good relationship with the coach. He’s always pushing me to work extra hard in training, which I believe I do. I appreciate him for giving me the chance to prove myself once again. I appreciate his trust in me.”

Whether that trust will extend to starting Sakala on Wednesday night against Liverpool remains to be seen but there is no doubt that the Zambian has played himself back into the manager’s thoughts.

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