Rangers manager Steven Gerrard was delighted with his team’s fluid attacking display as they enjoyed an emphatic improvement against Aberdeen.
The Light Blues won only two of seven meetings with the Dons last season but they were never troubled in a 5-0 victory at Ibrox, which cut the deficit on Ladbrokes Premiership leaders Celtic to one point.
Greg Stewart came in for his first league start and delivered a display brimming with creativity and menace, netting the second from close range, winning one of two penalties that James Tavernier tucked away, coming close on several occasions and creating a series of other chances.
Alfredo Morelos dragged an injury-hit Aberdeen defence all over the place and Sheyi Ojo popped up in different areas of the final third with Scott Arfield getting in the box at every opportunity as Rangers delivered a potent display with Aberdeen struggling to cope with their movement.
Gerrard said: “When you play against a block or a very compact team who have a lot of men behind the ball, it’s important that not everything is in front of them.
“You can’t just pass from A to B to C and not disrupt their lines. If people are coming short it’s vital that other people run in behind. I thought we asked a lot of questions of Aberdeen with our energy, our cleverness, our runs in behind.
“I thought Greg coming in gave them another problem, which was great to see. That’s what we want to do to teams, we want to cause them as many problems as we can.”
Morelos headed the third and substitute Jermain Defoe lobbed home late on before escaping shocked but unhurt after a road accident on his way home from Ibrox.
Colombian striker Morelos was sent off three times against Aberdeen last season but he hurt the Dons in the right way with a mature performance.
When asked if he was following orders by dropping deep, Gerrard said: “Listen, I’m not going to take any credit for that performance.
“He is the one who is dropping into these interesting areas, into the pockets, overloading the middle of the pitch.
“He was the one who was trying to drag the Aberdeen players out of position. He was on the left, the right, he scores a header, he had other chances. He was focused on his performance and nothing else.”
Aberdeen looked a shadow of the team that beat Rangers three times last season but they were without eight players including Andrew Considine, who was struck down by a sickness bug.
Manager Derek McInnes admits Rangers look a different prospect this season but is confident his team will make big improvements.
“If Rangers and Celtic are spending their money wisely and have good managers in place, they will be the teams that fight it out at the top of the league,” he said.
“You can see Rangers are in a good place. They’ve got a good manager, they have spent enough money again this summer and they seem to have spent it well. I do think they will be up challenging Celtic a bit longer this season.
“For teams like ourselves, it’s important we still feel we can compete over 90 minutes, and compete better than we did.
“But with our strongest team, our battle-hardened and experienced players, boys who have been here time and time again, we can still win these types of games. There’s no question of that.
“But we looked miles away from it. We lacked that experience and personality that every team needs here.
“Hopefully we can get (Craig) Bryson and (Scott) McKenna back, and certainly Considine will be back next week.”
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