Rangers 3-0 Livingston: Fabio Silva, Rabbi Matondo and Todd Cantwell score as Gers cut Celtic's lead at top of Scottish Premiership table

by 24britishtvFeb. 4, 2024, midnight 26
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Rangers thumped Livingston 3-0 to cut Celtic's lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to just three points with a game in hand.

Buoyed by Celtic dropping points at Aberdeen earlier in the day, Rangers dominated the game with late first-half goals from Fabio Silva - his first in Gers colours - and Rabbi Matondo putting them in cruise control.

Todd Cantwell made it three after half-time, sweeping home in a great team move as Philippe Clement's side also moved two goals behind Celtic in the goal difference battle.
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Asked about the title race after the game, Clement told Sky Sports: "Where are we, little bit more than half way? It's a long way to do. Before the last two or three games of the season, it's not important."

The match was a complete mismatch, with Livingston ending the game with no shots on goal and just two touches in the Rangers penalty box.

How Rangers edged closer to the top

Rangers started on the front foot immediately, with Clement's side looking to close the points and goal difference gap on Celtic.

Ryan Jack cracked an early effort from the edge of the box which was well-saved by Shamal George, who was then equal to James Tavenier's corner, which had to be clawed from underneath his own bar.

Ross McCausland, Cantwell, Tavernier and Matondo all had efforts from the edge of the box fly wide, as Rangers generated 17 first-half shots with nearly 78 per cent of the ball.

Rangers stepped it up a gear towards the end of the half as Matondo had a deflected shot tipped over by George. But then the opener came from the resulting corner.

Barisic's corner was poked goalwards by Conor Goldson but it was blocked into the path of Silva, who hooked the ball into the bottom corner. VAR took a look at a potential high boot on David Carson by Goldson in the build-up, but waved any Livingston complaints away.

Moments later, it was two as Barisic fed Matondo to the left of the box and this time, a deflection on his shot took the ball into the bottom corner.

It was three just 10 minutes after half-time as McCausland burst down the right and found the unmarked Cantwell in the box, who lifted the ball above George into the middle of the net.

From that point on, Rangers could afford to be wasteful. McCausland forced two more saves from George, while Silva's acrobatic effort fell just wide of the far post.

Substitute Cyriel Dessers was denied a goal in a third straight game as he put a close-range effort over the bar, while fellow replacement Ridvan Yilmaz struck the bar.

It was a game where Rangers didn't need to get out of second gear.

What the managers said...

"I'm very satisfied. You see the team growing week by week, month by month, becoming stronger. Like you saw today, when you make changes you don't see a drop of level.

"It was a really good evening. The fans liked it, the football they see now, we are getting closer and closer to the football we want to see.

"It's important for everybody. I don't think about signings, or people long or short in the building. The new players need to adapt with and without the ball.

"Fabio is getting better and better. Oscar [Cortes] suits the way we want to play football. Rabbi is growing and made a great goal, we made three great goals and we made good opportunities where the Livingston goalkeeper had a good game. It is an evening we are satisfied about and we want to have more evenings like this.

"We are still ambitious in three competitions. We're the only Scottish teams in this way, we will need all our squad, to be ready in the games, to know what to do and be tactically ready.

"I need to make rotation in the next couple of weeks. It was a first good sign that everybody understands. The next couple of weeks, we will have tougher opponents than we had today."

"I thought the first goal, my player is sitting in the changing room with stud marks in his legs. Goldson catches David Carson on his thigh. I think there's a handball in there around the back but I don't have any issues with that. But there's a foul in the build-up.

"That first goal changes the dynamic of the game and if it doesn't stand, we don't concede the second in the way we do.

"Because at the start of the game, Rangers are back in the title race. The crowd is up because Celtic dropped two points. That impacted the first 20 minutes, but my players did well. They stayed in their structure, stayed in their shape and they matched what Rangers came with us in.

"Then the corner comes in and then there's a foul on Dave Carson. I don't think it's the referee's fault, I think it's the people in the VAR room. He's flying in with high feet, it has an impact on David because he sees him flying in. That impacts David's ability to attack the space and clear the ball.

"The first 35 minutes is huge away at Rangers or Parkhead. But if we don't concede that first goal, then we go in on level terms and then you have no idea how the second half goes. But the momentum really flipped at that point.

"I would love teams in and around us to not pick up points. We will be here until matchday 38 and keep fighting. The harsh reality is we need to start picking up points as quickly as possible."

Rangers' next Scottish Premiership match is away to Aberdeen on Tuesday night, live on Sky. Kick-off 8pm.

Livingston are away to Kilmarnock on Wednesday night. Kick-off 7.45pm.

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