Livi were unable to make it a Glasgow double as a lacklustre performance allowed Rangers to run out comfortable 2-0 winners at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Goals from Joe Aribo and Alfredo Morelos gave Steven Gerrard’s side their third win of the season over the Lions, who offered little threat to Allan McGregor in the visitors’ goal throughout the 90 minutes.
Gary Holt made three changes to the starting line-up from the 2-1 defeat at Motherwell as Jack McMillan, Steven Lawless and Lyndon Dykes came in for Alan Lithgow, Keaghan Jacobs and Scott Tiffoney. New signing Aaron Taylor-Sinclair was named among the Livi substitutes.
The visitors were quickly on the front foot and went close on seven minutes when Ryan Jack’s deflected effort forced Matija Sarkic into a diving save. Livi then went close at the other end five minutes later when Dykes picked out Steve Lawson and his cross was met by Scott Pittman who glanced his header wide of target.
McMillan was the first name into referee Nick Walsh’s book on 20 minutes for a late challenge on Connor Goldson before Morelos got away from Guthrie two minutes later to run in on goal only for Ricki Lamie to make a superb, goal-saving challenge on the Colombian. Jack then went close on the half hour after patient build-up play ended with him firing a low effort wide of target from the edge of the box.
The pressure was building, though, and it eventually tolled on 33 minutes as the visitors took the lead when Jack released Aribo and the Nigerian international fired high past Sarkic from the edge of the box. Livi almost grabbed a quick equaliser a minute later when Pittman hung up a cross to the back post for Dykes who controlled the ball well but could only fire wide of target.
Rangers almost doubled their lead five minutes before the interval when Glen Kamara tried his luck from the edge of the box but Sarkic produced a superb fingertip save to keep the Lions’ deficit at just the one goal at the break.
Half-time: Livingston 0-1 Rangers
Trailing by just a single goal, Livi would have had high hopes of getting back into the game but those hopes were effectively dashed six minutes after the restart as the visitors doubled their lead. when Borna Barisic played a ball over the top for Morelos who found the bottom corner of the net with a fine finish across Sarkic. There was frustration for the Lions as replays showed the Rangers man was half a yard offside as the ball was played into his path.
Livi looked to mount a response and tested McGregor for the first time on 56 minutes, Dykes doing well to flick the ball into the path of Lawless who fired a powerful effort straight at the Rangers stopper. Rangers made their first change shortly after as Sheyi Ojo came on for the injured Ryan Kent before a double substitution for Livi saw Aymen Souda and Taylor-Sinclair came on for Lawson and Hakeem Odoffin.
The Lions made their final switch on 69 minutes as Jacobs replaced Robbie Crawford before a poor clearance from the Rangers defence three minutes later gave Pittman the chance to get a shot away but he could only fire high over the bar from the edge of the box. Marvin Bartley and Taylor-Sinclair then picked up quickfire bookings for the hosts before Jermain Defoe replaced Morelos with eight minutes to play.
Rangers were comfortably keeping the Lions at bay in the closing stages, although Souda did well to work an opening six minutes from time but could only fire straight at McGregor from the edge of the box. That was the best the Lions could muster as the visitors ran out comfortable winners to keep pace with leaders Celtic at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership.
Full-time: Livingston 0-2 Rangers
Livingston: Sarkic, Odoffin (Taylor-Sinclair 60), Lamie, Guthrie, McMillan, Bartley, Crawford (Jacobs 70), Pittman, Lawless, Lawson (Souda 60), Dykes
Subs not used: Stewart, Tiffoney, Robinson, Sibbald
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Helander,Barisic, Kamara, Jack, Aribo (Stewart 87), Arfield, Morelos (Defoe 82), Kent (Ojo 58)
Subs not used: Davis, Fodderingham, Flanagan, Katic
Goals: Aribo (32), Morelos (52)
Referee: Nick Walsh
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine