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Sport 3 talking points as James Tavernier stunner earns Rangers huge win at St Johnstone

18:35  11 september  2021
18:35  11 september  2021 Source:   dailyrecord.co.uk

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Rangers edged the battle of last season’s trophy winners thanks to James Tavernier’s sensational winner.

The Premiership champions were up against Callum Davidson’s cup double heroes in Perth but it was the Ibrox men who walked away with the points after an action-packed second half saw skipper Tavernier bury an audacious 25-yard strike with 11 minutes left.

It looked as though Steven Gerrard’s men were in trouble after they followed up a tame first half display by allowing Michael O’Halloran to net against his old side.

But a Kemar Roofe penalty drew the Light Blues level and Tavernier sealed the points late on.

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Saints began the day by announcing they had tied boss Davidson down on a new deal stretching to 2025.

But the McDiarmid men were also were beginning life without Hampden heroes Jason Kerr and Ali McCann following their deadline day departures.

Rangers, meanwhile, were minus Connor Goldson at the back as the Englishman’s run of 81 consecutive starts came to an end after he became the latest Ibrox star forced to self-isolate.

Leon Balogun - who covered for quarantining captain James Tavernier against Celtic last time out - this time stepped in to deputise for the vice-captain but it was a stroll of a first 45 minutes for the Gers defence.

Saints were working their socks off to smother space and thwart Gerrard’s team in their attempts to break into the home box.

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But that sapped them of the energy required to break forward and trouble Rangers at the other end.

The only moment of bother for the Light Blues in the first half came 10 minutes in when Jon McLaughlin raced miles off his line to challenge O’Halloran outside his box.

The keeper got their late and was relieved to see Willie Collum decide the challenge only deserved a yellow.

Gers monopolised the ball but that did not materialise into a raft of chances. Hayden Muller made a brave block on Roofe, while the new Jamaica international registered the only shot on target of the half 10 minutes before the break when Zander Clark pushed away his long-range effort.

a group of people watching a football ball on a field © SNS Group

The half-time break allowed Saints the chance to recharge the batteries and they exploded out the traps, grabbing the opener inside six minutes of the restart.

Millwall loanee Muller launched a ball up to O’Halloran, who took full advantage of Filip Helander’s slip to rifle the ball past McLaughlin for the opener.

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Rangers should have hit back immediately but Morelos could not get a toe to the ball as Tavernier flashed a cross across goal.

But they only had to wait until the 58th minute to restore parity as Muller wiped out Ryan Kent’s standing leg in the box to hand Rangers a penalty.

Roofe successfully clipped the spot-kick down the middle but Collum was forced to intervene again as a bout of handbags broke out amid the celebrations, with the goalscorer, Alfredo Morelos, Liam Craig and Shaun Rooney all booked after some needless argy-bargy.

Falling behind had certainly sparked Gers into life. Ryan Kent flashed just over while Roofe was denied a second after barging the ball out of Clark’s hands.

But there was no denying Tavernier’s winner with 11 minutes left as the Gers skipper swept a sublime finish up and over Clark to seal the points.

The St Johnstone keeper raced forward for a corner in the final moment hoping to recreate his part in last season’s famous Scottish Cup quarter-final win but Gers this time stood firm for a big win.

Here's three talking points from Perth:

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Rangers slow out the blocks

a group of people watching a football ball on a field © SNS Group

Steven Gerrard must be getting sick and tired of dishing out half-time wake up calls to his dozing stars. For the sixth time in 10 games this term the champions failed to find the net inside the opening 45 minutes. It took O’Halloran’s opener just after the break to shake the Light Blues from their slumber but Gerrard should be rightly concerned about his team’s lack of urgency from the off. Like they did against Celtic - who should have grabbed a first half lead had it not been for an astonishing Odsonne Edouard miss - Gers got away with it again as Roofe’s penalty was followed up by a crucial winner by Tavernier but Gers cannot afford to let an entire half go to waste when they take on top-class opposition like Lyon in Thursday’s Europa League opener.

Defensive worries

For the first time since a 2-0 Scottish Cup win over Stranraer back in February 2020, Gers lined up without Connor Goldson in their starting XI. Gerrard confirmed dependable centre-back - who played every second of last term’s campaign - had been ruled out through Covid self-isolation and it remains to be seen if he will be available or not to face Lyon. There was further concern when last week’s Old Firm hero Filip Helander had to be taken off on a stretcher. Without Goldson, Gers looked vulnerable. Helander never looked comfortable when up against the pace of Michael O’Halloran before he want off and it was his costly slip that allowed the former Ibrox winger to put Saints ahead just after the break. Jack Simpson was brought on to partner Leon balogun for the closing stages as they claimed the points but it is likely to be an all together tougher test on Thursday as Peter Bosz’s team come to Glasgow.

Saints still waiting for first win

Callum Davidson’s team were the closest Gers came to facing a bogey team last term having dumped the champions out of the Scottish Cup as well as claiming a last-gasp equaliser in the final league meeting of the teams. The Perth men have suffered a couple of major departures since then having sold both skipper Jason Kerr and Ali McCann on deadline day. With Liam Gordon injured, Jamie McCart was the only remaining member of Davidson’s trusted back three available as he started beside Hayden Muller and James Brown but his team were no easier to break down for much of the game, with Roofe’s penalty and wonder strike from Tavernier required for Gers to claim the points. It means Saints have taken just three draws from their first five games but Davidson will not panic after seeing his team take their time getting up to speed last term.

The Rangers clue that shows James Tavernier could have fight on his hands as John Lundstram 'trying too hard' message delivered .
Rangers assistant boss Gary McAllister insisted the team picked against Livingston was the considered the best available and players weren't rested. It came after James Tavernier’s wonder strike bailed Rangers out at St Johnstone last month and Gerrard was quick to heap praise on his skipper.

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