Three-In-A-Row For ‘Gers
Manager Alex McLeish made one change from Motherwell with Fernando Ricksen making a welcome return from injury in place of Steven Smith.
Rangers almost struck as early as the second minute when Peter Lovenkrands saw his effort from a Thomas Buffel cross held by goalkeeper Roddy McKenzie.
The opening goal was merely delayed however – five minutes later Kris Boyd drove the ball home after a Lovenkrands shot had been blocked to notch his first League goal for the club.
It was one–way traffic even this early in the game – Lovenkrands again being denied by McKenzie from a Chris Burke pass in ten minutes, but the Dane should certainly have added a second five minutes later when he sclaffed a Buffel cutback wide.
Buffel was at the heart of every home attack – his drive from a Lovenkrands pass being beaten out by the Livvie goalkeeper in 21 minutes.
Referee Eddie Smith had allowed the visitors to commit fouls at a phenomenal rate without even a hint of a card, but David McNamee, one of the less frequent offenders, was eventually booked in 37 minutes for a foul on Buffel.
Rangers suffered an injury blow just before the interval when Sotirios Kyrgiakos limped off to be replaced by Smith.
The Light Blues restarted on the offensive with Lovenkrands heading over from a Buffel cross, but Livingston were suddenly threatening with McNamee’s
right-wing surge producing a cross that Ian Murray scrambled clear.
Unbelievably, given the home side’s first-half superiority, the scores were level in 51 minutes when Hungarian Gabor Vincze broke through the Ibrox defence to rifle the ball home.
Livvie were suddenly threatening an upset – but within four minutes Rangers had regained the lead when Boyd turned on a Buffel pass to stab the ball into the net.
Buffel was in superb form – and from the restart he almost added a third when he created space for himself with an exquisite move as he cut in from the left, only to see his shot from a narrow angle blocked by McKenzie.
Five minutes later Marvin Andrews saw his header from a Lovenkrands corner flash just over.
Dado Prso replaced Lovenkrands in 63 minutes – the Dane being not at all happy to be substituted.
The closing stages were nervy for the 49,211 crowd, as Livingston became more and more adventurous – yet Rangers almost caught them on the counter-attack in 82 minutes when in a lightning break a Buffel – Prso move
ended when the Belgian shot just over.
To immense relief Prso made it 3-1 in 88 minutes with a twenty-yard free-kick.
The Croatian added a fourth goal in the dying seconds when he rifled home a head-flick from fellow substitute Nacho Novo.
Afterwards Alex McLeish summarised:
“We had a nervy time at 1-1, but the late goals justified our superiority. I was very pleased for Dado Prso – the late goals will give him confidence. The recent form of the strikers gives me food for thought. Peter Lovenkrands softened up the defenders, and it was terrific to have that quality on the bench.”
RANGERS Waterreus; Ricksen, Andrews, Kyrgiakos (Smith 44), Murray; Burke, Malcolm, Ferguson, Buffel; Boyd (Novo 78), Lovenkrands (Prso 63)
UNUSED SUBS Klos, Hemdani, Hutton, Lowing
LIVINGSTON McKenzie; Mackay, Pinxten, Strong, Tierney; McNamee (Walker 67), Brittain, Vincze, Hoolahan (Dair 85); Dalglish (Snodgrass 71), Hislop
UNUSED SUBS Roy, Scott, Boyd, Dorrans
REFEREE Eddie Smith