Rangers have progressed to the next round of the Betfred Cup after seeing off Kilmarnock thanks to an inspired display by Alfredo Morelos in a 3-1 win, with all three goals coming through the Colombian.
Just before the half hour mark he broke the deadlock, heading in James Tavernier’s cross. Before half-time, he scored again, shrugging off pressure from the Kilmarnock defence and firing a pinpoint finish into the corner of the net.
With Rangers in control, disaster struck when Borna Barisic deflected a cross into his own net early on in the second half. The pressure was eased by yet another Morelos goal as Tavernier set him up yet again to tap into the net and complete his hat-trick.
Here’s what we can take from the tie…
Rangers can’t afford to lose Alfredo Morelos
Just as speculation about interest in the 22-year-old heats up again, he produces arguably his greatest performance in a Rangers shirt by netting a hat-trick against Kilmarnock with three impressive finishes.
Gerrard opted to withdraw the striker, who was on a yellow card, after his third goal but if he had continued he could have scored more. It’s clear that if Rangers want to be a success, they need a prolific goalscorer like Morelos, irregardless of whatever money is put on the table from elsewhere.
Steven Gerrard will take every competition seriously
The Rangers boss put out a strong side to face Kilmarnock in the Scottish League Cup and made it clear that he will not be taking any risks, despite also handling a title challenge in the Scottish Premier League and hoping to reach the Europa League group stages.
After several rounds of qualifiers, it would have been easy for the boss to rest key men like Morelos but he opted to stick with them and give the team the best possible chance of victory and reaching the next round.
James Tavernier is just as crucial to this team as Morelos
Many will be distracted by the headlines and the fact that Morelos netted a hat-trick, but on closer inspection it’s clear to see that the same man set up all three of his goals: James Tavernier. From full-back, he is proving to be one of the team’s most creative outputs.
The 26-year-old has been one of the team’s most outstanding performers since Gerrard arrived and it’s clear that he is fundamental to his coach’s plans.