The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Boss is relieved to see Morelos do his talking on the pitch once again

- By Graeme Croser

MANAGER Steven Gerrard last night urged Alfredo Morelos to build on his first goal of 2020, admitting Rangers need the Colombian back in top form if they are to continue challengin­g for honours.

Prior to making it 3-1 for Rangers’ in yesterday’s Scottish Cup win, Morelos had endured a mixed afternoon at Hamilton, winning a penalty for the opener then blasting a shot straight at Accies’ No 1 Luke Southwood.

‘We need him firing as quickly as possible,’ said Gerrard. ‘All forwards, especially No9s, thrive on goals so hopefully this will have done him a lot of good.’

The 23-year-old striker has endured a torrid time since being sent off in stoppage-time of the 2-1 win at Celtic on December 29.

Handed a three-game ban in the wake of that red card, the South American has been the subject of headlines surroundin­g his private life and was also the subject of a mistransla­ted television interview which has seen Celtic refer the broadcaste­rs to Ofcom and demand an apology for the Rangers striker.

What Morelos makes of this latest farce remains, like so much pertaining to his character, shrouded in mystery.

Although he again cut a moody figure for much of this match, Gerrard saw signs that his top scorer — now on 29 club goals for the season — is back in business after four games without scoring.

‘He looked sharp today,’ added the former Liverpool captain. ‘He’ll be disappoint­ed he didn’t score two because that was a good chance he missed in the first half.

‘But we saw signs of the old Alfredo. He won the penalty and was in the right place at the right time to get his goal.’

While Gerrard praised Morelos, he was more critical of his defence. Connor Goldson had a shaky game, not least after the introducti­on of substitute Marios Ogkmpoe following a first-half injury to

Steve Davies.

Goldson also ought to

have conceded a penalty for a blatant handball, while George Edmundson and full-backs James Tavernier and Borna Barisic fared little better.

‘We pride ourselves on our organisati­on but today we didn’t look as if we were on the same page,’ continued Gerrard.

‘I don’t want to disrespect Hamilton but the goal came from our defensive shape. Maybe that’s because we’ve changed the partnershi­p recently but we weren’t on the same wavelength.

‘But it’s job done. We finished the game off extremely well by being calm in front of goal.’

Ogkmpoe’s introducti­on towards the end of the first half brought Hamilton to life but with Andy Dales and Mikel Miller, himself a substitute, also being injured before the break, the hosts had used all their options with 45 minutes to go. Consequent­ly, they tired, a fact coach Guillaume Beuzelin felt was relevant.

‘It was tough to deal with, three injuries almost at the same time,’ he said. ‘Usually you make your changes between 60-75 minutes. We couldn’t do that and it had a big influence on the game.’

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