Rangers 8 Hamilton 0: Aribo, Roofe and Tavernier hit doubles as Gers restore nine point gap over Celtic

BACK in the early throes of March, David Moyo hit a famous winner for Hamilton to cap an excruciating four days for Rangers.

Dumped out of the Scottish Cup by Hearts on the Saturday, Steven Gerrard’s rudderless side hit rock bottom in a defeat which left them 13 points behind Celtic. 

The boos that rang round Ibrox stadium that night said it all.

Rangers were a shambles. 

Lacking in direction and leadership, some even questioned whether Gerrard had the stomach for the fight.

Fast forward eight months and the landscape has changed entirely.

No one is doubting Gers now.

Having absolutely humiliated Hamilton, Gerrad’s side are now a staggering 20 games unbeaten across all competitions for the season.

They have not lost domestically since that humbling defeat to Accies on March 4.

And they head into the international break nine points clear of Celtic at the top of the league.

The Verdict

RANGERS: McLaughlin 7, Tavenier 8, Goldson 8, Balogun 7, Barisic 6, Arfield 7, Jack 6, Aribo 8, Kent 7, Roofe 7; Defoe 7. 

SUBS: Bassey 5 (Barisic 46), Zungu 5 (Jack 46) Barker 5 (Kent 58) Hagi 3 (Aribo 69) Itten 3 (Arfield 74).

HAMILTON: Fulton 5, Hodson 4, Odoffin 4, Easton 4, McMann 4, Hughes 4, Callachan 4, Stirling 4, Collar 5, Moyo 4, Ogkmpoe 4.

SUBS: Winter 2 (Ogkmpoe 54) Hughes 2 (L Smith 54) Mimnaugh 3 (Callachan 73)

In this kind of form they will take some stopping.

This was Rangers’ biggest ever win under Gerrard – the hammering they have been threatening to dish out for some time.

A stunning victory which was every bit as impressive as the emphatic scoreline suggests.

Following Gers’ 3-3 draw in Lisbon on Thursday, Gerrard made five changes to his starting line-up.

Jon McLaughlin started ahead of Allan McGregor in goal while Jermain Defoe, Roofe, Arfield and Leon Balogun were all reinstated.

That meant no place for Filip Helander after his horror show against Benfica.

Rangers had the points sewn up inside the opening 20 minutes.

Their attacking play was too hot for Hamilton to handle with Gers scoring three goals inside three devastating first half minutes.

Aribo got his second and Gers’ fourth before half-time rescued hapless Hamilton.

Three decent chances had come and gone with Connor Goldson, Ryan Kent and James Tavernier all testing Accies keeper Ryan Fulton before the floodgates opened on 16 minutes.

It was a disaster for the Hamilton defence with Hakeem Odoffin and Ben Stirling bumping into one another, allowing Defoe to send Kent clear into space.

The winger cut into the box before looking up and picking out Arfield. The Gers midfielder took it first time, side footing the ball into the net.

He made it look easy, it was anything but.

Two minutes later and Rangers had another. 

Tavernier did superbly on the right hand side, whipping in a fantastic cross which Roofe rose to meet ahead of Stirling.

Keeper Fulton had no chance. A minute later and Aribo got his name on the scoresheet after yet more pulsating attacking play by the home side.

Kent and Arfield combined to pick out Aribo who cut inside onto his left foot before firing beyond Fulton.

Roofe came close to his second just past the half hour mark and he was involved again three minutes later, this time turning provider for Aribo.

Tavernier’s initial cross caused all the problems with the Hamilton defence once again at sixes and sevens.

Roofe did well to retrieve it, feeding Aribio whose shot, just like his first, took a slight deflection off Will Collar before finding its way into the back of the Accies net.

Brian Rice couldn’t believe what he was watching. Rangers had ruthlessly ripped his side apart.

Some of their movement had been a joy to watch. But Gerrard STILL wanted more.

Urging his players to get forward in numbers, he also had the luxury of making two changes at the break with Calvin Bassey replacing Borna Barisic and Bongani Zungu coming on for his debut in place of Ryan Jack.

Gers simply picked up from where they’d left off, stretching the Hamilton defence at every opportunity.

Tavernier forced Fulton into a smart save at his near post with the second half just two minutes old.

Rangers were finding space and pockets all over the park. Despite their first half chasing, Hamilton had learned nothing.

And on 54 minutes, Gers got a fifth. Kent did well again wide left, floating a ball to the back post which Defoe was quickest to react to.

His effort came back off the post and as the Accies defence continued to stand around and watch, Roofe moved in to slam home the rebound.

It was another gift gratefully received by Rangers.

They were embarrassing Hamilton now. Hamilton were embarrassing themselves.

With 61 minutes gone, Barker got a sixth for Gers with his first touch of the match.

Bassey did superbly, crossing for Defoe who held the ball up before teasing it into the patch of the Rangers sub.

Barker took it in his stride, Fulton again with no chance.

Things just went from bad to worse for the visitors with Odoffin giving away a penalty after a foul on Defoe.

Tavernier stepped up from the spot to make it seven – five minutes later the Gers skipper made it EIGHT.

By now Hamilton had chucked it – the defence in total disarray. Roofe was allowed to cut in on the angle, with Fulton saving well.

Again, however, no one in red and white moved with Tav gleefully smashing home the rebound.

Defoe then hit the post as Rangers went in search of a ninth.

Not many managers survive an eight goal thrashing and Rice is now a man under serious pressure.

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