Livingston were unable to round off their last home game of the season with a positive result as Scottish Premiership champions Rangers won 3-0.
James Tavernier’s penalty followed by second half goals from Ryan Kent and Ianis Hagi means Rangers’ unbeaten league run of 37 matches is extended until the last game of the season. Livingston have to win against St Johnstone on Saturday to secure fifth place.
The intent from Rangers was clear from the start, consuming the majority of the ball, looking to get the front men behind the home defence. The first real chance of the match came against the run of play for Livi. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas’s footwork set him free just inside the Rangers half. He played a neat through ball into the path of the on-rushing Josh Mullin, however, Jon McLaughlin was equal to it,
The breakthrough for the Scottish champions came two minutes from half-time. A moment of magic from Kemar Roofe, he flicked through the legs of Jack Fitzwater, playing the ball into the path of Hagi. Livingston keeper Max Stryjek failed to get there in time, bringing down Hagi in the box.
Captain Tavernier continued his fine form of this season, slotting his penalty low into the bottom corner past the outstretched gloves of Stryjek. In the 57th minute Rangers’ lead was doubled. Beating the offside trap, Kent latched onto Tavernier’s long ball, scuffing his effort. Alfredo Morelos recovered and found Kent in the six yard box to slot home.
Fans were next to get in on the action as fireworks exploded just outside the ground in celebration of Rangers’ league campaign. Minutes later Livingston were inches from gaining a lifeline. Picking up on a headed clearance, Scott Pittman unleashed a stunning volley, crashing off the underside of the bar.
Livingston’s luck, or lack of, was evident 15 minutes from time. Pittman’s flick from a Nicky Devlin cross gifted substitute Jaze Kabia with the chance to score into an open goal, however he failed to adapt, remarkably striking the outside of the post.
In the 85th minute Hagi put the game to bed with Rangers’ third and final goal of the evening. Cedric Itten drove down the left wing and he picked out Hagi free on the edge of the area to stroke past Stryjek and ensure all three points. Here are three things we learned.
A successful season for the Lions
This result should not put a dampener on the heroics of Martindale’s side this season. Destined for a relegation battle at the start of the season, the Lions’ emphatic turnaround should be held in high regard and will be built on ahead of next season.
With success comes a keen eye. As we have seen in recent transfer windows this will continue to be the case. Clubs come lurking for that missing spark, and David Martindale will need to hold tight to keep the core of this team intact if he wants to have similar performances to this season.
All eyes on Saturday
The Lions will need to battle it out with St Johnstone for 5th place in the Scottish Premiership. The Lions head to McDiarmid Park on Saturday and will be eager to gain payback for their League Cup Final heartbreak earlier in the season.
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