Steven Gerrard hailed resurgent Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos’ return to form as he declared: ‘He’s back with a bang’.
The Colombian has not been his usual prolific self this season but he shrugged off any lingering doubt with a deadly double in Gers’ 2-1 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
The victory clears another major hurdle on the road to the Ibrox club’s 55th league title and moves them 22 points clear at the top.
Skipper James Tavernier missed his first penalty in 15 months after Dons wideman Ryan Hedges was sent off for a clumsy penalty-box trip on Morelos, while the runaway league leaders were guilty of switching off in the second half as Matty Kennedy pulled a goal back.
But Gerrard was delighted to see Morelos back among the goals as he took his tally for the season to 10.
The Ibrox boss – whose team have now won 15 straight Premiership games – said: “All of my front players looked dangerous today. Ryan Kent was a threat, Joe Aribo got another assist and Alfredo is back with a bang which is probably the most pleasing thing, aside from the points.
“In terms of the job he has been doing for the team he has been pretty selfless, but he has suffered a little bit, as most forwards do from time to time, with his confidence in front of goal.
“But you saw that return today. His two goals were excellent. There have been signs of it – his goal against St Mirren and his chance against St Johnstone. He’s looked a lot more dangerous.
“He deserved his man-of-the-match award and if we keep him in the place he is in now, he is going to be a huge help to us going forward.”
Tavernier failed to make it 10-in-a-row from the penalty spot as he slotted wide with the game goalless and Gerrard said: “It shows he’s human first and foremost.
“He’s an excellent penalty taker for sure but he got that one wrong today. But we will still support him and back him.
“I think the result should have been more emphatic. I thought we were excellent up until 2-0. Playing against 10 men, we maintained our standards. But then I thought we got a little bit sloppy.
“We lost control at times and Aberdeen had too many good moments. We need to look at that. But I’m obviously very pleased with the outcome.”
Hedges was sent off after clipping Morelos’ heels as he looked set to pull the trigger from five yards out.
And Dons boss Derek McInnes admitted he now realises that he cannot argue with the decision to dismiss Hedges.
“I did (have complaints) at the time,” he said. “My feeling at the time was Ryan did everything he could not to make the challenge.
“He didn’t want to run into the back of Morelos and as a consequence we knew Morelos would get his shot away. You can see it with Hedges’ body movement.
“The irony is, if we had actually made an attempt and swiped him down and not won the ball he would have got a yellow card and we could have continued to play with 11 men.
“It seems a really unfair outcome but John Beaton explained it to me at half-time. He said I’ve nowhere to go with this. I know it was accidental but because it wasn’t a genuine attempt it has to be a red card. Once he explained it you have to say it was the right decision based on the laws.”
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