It was defeat for Ross County in the Highlands as Rangers came out 4-0 winners in Dingwall.
Kemar Roofe opened the scoring for the Ibrox side before James Tavernier doubled the lead just before the hour mark as Stuart Kettlewell’s team tried to contain their visitors. Callum Morris put one in his own net with 20 minutes to play, Jermain Defoe adding a fourth in the 90th minute.
Ross County had conquered one half of the Old Firm last weekend so now they were attempting to do the same against Rangers. But given the form of Steven Gerrard’s side, unbeaten in all competitions, this was set to be tougher.
Rangers dominated possession as was to be expected but County were breaking up play well in the middle. Harry Paton was then presented a huge chance after 26 minutes, the Staggies star’s close -range effort denied superbly by Allan McGregor.
It was a sore one for Kettlewell’s side and it became even more bruising two minutes later, Tavernier’s pass finding Roofe, who found the net once again.
Rangers had been patient against a stern Staggies side and got their reward for it. Their grip on the game only got tighter with this goal and as the Gers grew stronger, they took the match away from County.
Roofe had a shot well-saved by Ross Laidlaw five minutes after the restart but Tavernier would soon get his goal to go with his assist. Another good Laidlaw save was this time palmed off the Rangers captain and in.
Connor Randall then blew a massive chance 24 minutes from time. A cross from the left broke to him, and with the goal at his mercy, he blasted over the bar from all of five yards out.
Again Tavernier was to punish the Staggies, breaking down the right and sending another dangerous cutback into the box, Morris turning the ball past his own keeper.
Cedric Itten would then pounce on a Coll Donaldson mistake, the Swiss striker feeding Defoe, who would score in his 800th match and leave the scoreline at 4-0. Here are three things we learned.
If it ain’t broke
Kettlewell quite rightly opted for the same tactics that helped his side beat Celtic 2-0 last weekend. In the first 30 minutes of this one, breaking up play and hitting on the counter did work.
But this Rangers team are beating everyone in their path domestically just now and no tactical style seems able to thwart them.
While Rangers deservedly won this tie, it could have been very different if County had struck in key stages. Paton was denied a huge chance by McGregor with the game at 0-0, the Gers scoring a few minutes later.
Randall then missed an opportunity to get County back into the game at 2-0, but again, Rangers virtually marched up the other end to kill this off once and for all.
The festive period
The Staggies have been better on the road this season than at home, winning just once in Dingwall this term, on opening day. But their next four away games are Aberdeen, Livingston, Celtic and Hibs.
Those won’t be easy tasks for Kettlewell in terms of collecting three points. But home matches against Hamilton and St Mirren, who sit 10th and 12th, in their next two Premiership matches may be the crucial ones for Kettlewell.