A spirited Livingston were undone by a pair of set-piece goals as they went down 3-0 at home to Rangers.
Coming off an abysmal display in their Scottish Cup exit to Inverness the previous week, it was imperative that they upped their game and while they did that against Michael Beale’s men they paid the price for some ill discipline.
A first-half penalty and late free-kick from James Tavernier had the points wrapped up for the Ibrox side before Kemar Roofe scrambled home a third with five minutes remaining.
The skipper’s first arrived on 24 minutes following a needless shirt pull inside the box from James Penrice on Alfredo Morelos while the second came as a result of a challenge on the edge of the area that saw Stephane Omeonga harshly dismissed for a second yellow card.
Roofe wrapped the scoring up on 85 minutes as he bundled home from close range.
The game settled into a predictable pattern of Rangers enjoying plenty of the ball but a sturdy Livi defensive display limited their chances.
Tavernier tried his luck from distance early on but failed to test Shamal George in the Livi goal. The Gers had the ball in the net on 10 minutes when Fashion Sakala neatly turned home an Alfredo Morelos cross but the striker was flagged for offside.
The hosts gave Rangers a helping hand on 24 minutes, however, when following a lengthy VAR check, the away side were awarded a penalty after James Penrice was ruled to have pulled the jersey of Morelos. Up stepped Tavernier with the skipper sending George the wrong way to break the deadlock.
Chances were few and far between but with Livi able to get into the half-time interval with no further damage. They had George to thank for not being further behind just three minutes after the restart, though, when he did well to prevent Sakala from beating him at the near post.
David Martindale’s side enjoyed much more of the ball than usual against either of the Glasgow giants but offered little when they had it. Stephen Kelly’s tame strike from distance after neatly chesting the ball down to himself on the hour mark was their first shot on goal but offered no threat to Allan McGregor.
The midfielder then fluffed his lines at the back post five minutes late as the Lions enjoyed their best spell of the contest. The former Rangers man was unmarked when found by Nicky Devlin but screwed his strike wide before the hosts rode their luck twice in quick succession.
Ryan Kent should have done better when one-on-one with George before Kemar Roofe almost made an immediate impact from the bench when dragging his strike narrowly wide of the far post.
With the clash seeing set for a cracking finish it was suddenly all over with 12 minutes remaining as Omeonga was shown a harsh second yellow for a foul on the edge of the box with set-piece master Tavernier duly doubling the Gers’ lead from the resulting free-kick before Roofe’s late third as Livi fell into the sixth place.
Match Report: Callum Carson (Daily Record)
Livingston: George, Devlin ©️, Fitzwater, Obileye, Penrice (Montaño 70), Omeonga ▊▊, Sn.Kelly (Shinnie 55), Pittman, Bradley (Holt 52), St.Kelly ▊ (Guthrie 70), Nouble
Subs not used: Hamilton, Longridge, de Lucas, Boyes, Bahamboula
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier ©️ ▊, Goldson, Davies, Barasic, Kamara (Wright 88), Raskin (Sands 88), Cantwell, Sakala (Roofe 69), Kent (Rice 88), Morelos (Colak 79)
Subs not used: McLaughlin, King, Devine, Lovelace
Goals: Tavernier (24 pen & 78), Roofe (85)
Referee: David Dickinson