Steven Gerrard’s side crush Gibraltar opposition
Last Updated: 18/07/19 11:10pm
Rangers set up a Europa League revenge mission with Progres Niederkorn as they routed St Joseph’s 6-0 at Ibrox on Thursday night.
Alfredo Morelos struck his third Gers hat-trick as Jermain Defoe’s double and Joe Aribo strike sealed a 10-goal aggregate triumph.
And now having swept aside the minnows of Gibraltar, the Light Blues will welcome their old foes from Luxembourg to Glasgow next Thursday as they look to lay to rest the Neiderkorn ghosts of two years ago.
Thankfully for the Ibrox faithful, the team now managed by Steven Gerrard bears little resemblance to Pedro Caixinha’s team of that time.
The Portuguese boss presided over arguably the club’s worst-ever result when Rangers crashed out to the Grand Duchy part-timers in the opening qualifier of the 2017/18 campaign.
But it would be an even bigger shock should Progres repeat the feat against a squad now bursting with attacking options.
Last week’s crushing win under the Rock of Gibraltar allowed Gerrard the luxury of sweeping changes for the Glasgow return, with only Connor Goldson and Glen Kamara keeping their places.
New signings George Edmundson and Jake Hastie came in for their debuts, while Aribo, Matt Polster and Greg Stewart were making their competitive home bows in Govan.
And it took just two and a half minutes for Aribo to open his Ibrox account.
The entire St Joseph’s defence was caught cold as Greg Docherty slid a cute reverse pass in behind for the former Charlton midfielder to bury low into the net.
As expected, it was one-way traffic from there on in but there was still a hint of last week’s first-half display as the Gers again made heavy work of adding to their lead.
The Ibrox support had turned up expecting a goal-fest but Gerrard did not look too perturbed as a series of chances went begging, knowing his men are not yet up to full sharpness.
Stewart looked rusty as failed to finish a close-range header while Morelos carelessly wandered offside on 27 minutes as he collected a Docherty pass, with the flag already up by the time Hastie stuck the Colombian’s cross into the net.
Andy Halliday clipped a free-kick just past the far post, while Hastie got his feet all wrong as he skewed another golden chance wide.
But the second did arrive just before the interval. Hastie fired a corner to Goldson at the corner of the six-yard box and the defender’s flick fell perfectly for Morelos to head home at the back post.
Morelos scored again from the penalty spot 12 minutes into the second half after Docherty was bundled over in the box by Daniel Guerrero.
And last season’s top scorer notched his fourth of the new campaign already on 66 minutes as he guided home from yet another teasing Docherty delivery from the right flank.
Having claimed the match ball, Morelos immediately made way for Defoe but the 36-year-old ensured Rangers lost none of their killer touch.
Number five was a carbon copy of the fourth, this time with Polster acting as provider and Defoe the finisher.
The Englishman then grabbed his 10th goal in Rangers colours late on after a neat move involving Scott Arfield and Stewart opened up St Joseph’s yet again.