Magic More­los keeps Ger­rard mo­men­tum up

The Herald on Sunday - - SPORT - BY NICK RODGER

IF Steven Ger­rard is to be be­lieved, the ful­fill­ing 30 min­utes Al­fredo More­los con­jured here at Ibrox was one of the best half- hours since Han­cock was around.

Brought on to re­place Kyle Laf­ferty with 60 min­utes gone, t he Colom­bian’s en­er­gis­ing en­deav­our spawned a goal and an as­sist as Rangers surged to a three-goal vic­tory that reads more con­vinc­ingly than it ac­tu­ally was.

At t he t i me of More­los’s emer­gence, the hosts were one goal to the good but they hardly held the game in a dou­ble nel­son as a sprightly, sturdy Liv­ingston more than earned their salt. “I thought maybe he [More­los] could pro­vide the spark to put the game to bed … and he did,” said Ger­rard.

A clin­i­cal fin­ish on 83 min­utes, his 16th goal of the sea­son, set­tled any grow­ing nerves while his surge and cut-back for Scott Ar­field in the last knock­ings put the tin lid on af­fairs.

“His per­for­mance for 30 min­utes was su­perb,” added Ger­rard as he shov­elled great lumps of ac­claim on the 22-year-old, who scored 18 last sea­son. “There’s no doubt about it, he’s go­ing to shat­ter what he got last sea­son. I’ll fight tooth and nail to keep him here for as long as pos­si­ble.

“I’ll fall out with peo­ple to keep him here. I love him but I also un­der­stand ev­ery player has his price.”

The price to pay for More­los’s all- ac­tion ap­proach, though, is book­ings and an­other yes­ter­day was his sixth yel­low card in the league this sea­son. A sus­pen­sion for the match with Dundee in early De­cem­ber will fol­low.

“I need to share some of that blame,” con­ceded Ger­rard. “I’m ask­ing him to be in faces and be ag­gres­sive and press and not stop short.”

With a busy pro­gramme of four games in 11 days on both home and Euro­pean fronts, Ger­rard opted to start with Laf­ferty over More­los in some care­fully con­sid­ered squad man­age­ment. The Nor t her n Ir­ish­man put in plenty of spade work in the early stages but it was the vis­i­tors who came within a whisker of forg­ing the lead.

From a par­tially-cleared free-kick, Shaun Byrne’s de­flected pop at goal found its way to Alan Lith­gow and his squirt on the turn trun­dled off the post. That let- off seemed to give Rangers an added in­jec­tion of oomph as they mounted a se­ries of fear­some charges that could have been ac­com­pa­nied with fixed bay­o­nets.

The hard- pressed Liv­ingston de­fence was creak­ing like the out­house door in a stiff breeze and it even­tu­ally swung open on 21 min­utes as Rangers burst through. Glenn Mid­dle­ton’s cor­ner from the right was met by Daniel Can­deias and his header flew into the net.

It cer­tainly wasn’t all plain-sail­ing for the hosts after gain­ing the lead, though. Liv­ingston, who had shown an in­dus­tri­ous will­ing­ness to get f o r war d , stoked up s o me hee­bie- j ee­bies in the Rangers rear­guard as Scott Pittman pinged one just over after a scram­ble and Craig Halkett brought a div­ing parry out of Al­lan McGre­gor.

Hav­ing sur­vived those men­ac­ing ad­vances, Rangers re­ally should have dou­bled their lead as half- time loomed. Lith­gow’s at­tempt at a for­ward thump was blocked by Ar­field and it sent Laf­ferty bound­ing free, but he could only stroke his ef­fort into the side-net­ting. The hands on his head summed up t he gen­eral feel­ing.

Rangers could have done with the cush­ion of a se­cond goal be­cause Liv­ingston, or­gan­ised, tire­less, tidy

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