'Relaxed' Rangers ease to victory at Livingston
Last updated on .From the section Scottish Premiership
Rangers had a "relaxed afternoon" as they cruised to a comfortable Scottish Premiership victory at Livingston to continue Philippe Clement's unbeaten start as manager.
It could have been more for Rangers, who had two goals disallowed in a game dominated by VAR, but the result was never in doubt against a Livingston side that created precious little.
Clement's side move within five points of leaders Celtic, who host Aberdeen later on Sunday, while David Martindale's men stay bottom on goal difference.
"We played our football and could have won by more," the Rangers manager said.
"If you play a game where you miss a penalty and goals are disallowed it can become tricky, but we had a relaxed afternoon and never came into danger."
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Clement made four changes to the side that beat Sparta Prague in the Europa League on Thursday, but it didn't seem to upset Rangers' rhythm or cohesion in West Lothian.
Connor Goldson tapped in after Shamal George failed to collect a Tavernier free-kick cleanly, but a VAR check saw the goal chalked off, with the offside Dessers judged to have affected the goalkeeper's line of sight.
Ross McCausland, making his first Rangers start, won his side a spot-kick after going down under the slightest of contacts from George. However, the usually reliable Tavernier put his penalty wide of the right-hand post.
Livingston may well have thought that justice had been served, but they found themselves behind less than three minutes later.
Tom Lawrence played Dessers in on goal with a delightful through ball and the Nigeria international's shot trundled slowly over the line having taken a nick off defender Sean Kelly.
The bright McCausland then thought he had his first Rangers goal after an excellent first-time finish found the top corner, but referee Steven McLean blew for a foul by Abdallah Sima in the build-up and the decision was upheld by VAR.
Livingston's only effort on target in the whole game came just before the break, as Cristian Montano's curling shot was easily held by Jack Butland.
The second half saw a drop-off in tempo with Rangers content to keep possession and bide their time, and after yet another VAR intervention they did double their lead.
Mikey Devlin handled as he looked to challenge for the ball in the air, and Tavernier dispatched the resulting penalty to atone for his earlier miss and wrap up all three points.
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It's now four league wins from four for Clement as the Belgian manager continues to impress.
It would have been easy for his side to become frustrated in a game where they missed from the penalty spot and had two goals chalked off. Instead, they continued to play their football, picking Livingston apart and creating chances almost at will.
Clement spoke about wanting to get his whole squad up to speed before the hectic winter period, and there was a tick in the box for Lawrence who showed his creative qualities to set up the opening goal. Dessers getting on the scoresheet again can only help his confidence after a rough start to life in Glasgow.
For Livingston, games against Rangers won't define their season, but they were desperately poor.
Martindale spoke pre-match about needing to pose an attacking threat, but they only had nine touches in Rangers' box and registered just one shot on target. They have failed to score in their last four outings, have the second worst attacking record in the league and the joint-worst defensive record.
Martindale and Livingston have punched above their weight for so long, but something has to change quickly if they are to avoid a relegation battle this season.
What the managers said
Livingston manager David Martindale: "We started the second half okay, and then when it goes to 2-0 we're never getting anything from the game.
"There's still a lot of football to be played. I genuinely believe we've got enough to keep Livingston in the Scottish Premiership. It's about us focusing internally on what we can control. I take one day, one game at a time."
Rangers manager Philippe Clement: "We deserved to win, that's clear. [VAR] is a very important thing for me - there are less mistakes. In general the game is more honest, so I'm a huge favourite of VAR.
"We are going to work hard in the international break - there are a lot of things to do in the club. I'm here to work, not to have free time and enjoy life. My life is football."
Livingston are away to St Mirren after the international break on 25 November (15:00), while Rangers are away to Aberdeen the following day (12:00).