Livi suffered a third-straight defeat and slipped to eighth in the Ladbrokes Premiership as Rangers ran out comfortable winners at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
After a rare error from Liam Kelly allowed Ryan Jack to give Steven Gerrard’s men a half-time lead, Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos struck after the interval to seal a first win in five visits to West Lothian for the Ibrox side.
Gary Holt made two changes from the midweek defeat to St Johnstone as Dolly Menga and Keaghan Jacobs came in for Craig Sibbald and the ineligible Ryan Hardie.
Rangers’ midweek loss to Kilmarnock, coupled with their defeat the last time they visited the Lions, ensured they were fired up for this encounter and they came flying out of the traps, going close inside five minutes when Scott Arfield released Daniel Candeias and, after attempting to round Kelly, he fired in a shot that the Livi keeper was able to save. Ross McCrorie then sent a header wide four minutes later.
The visitors were dominant and Morelos was next to threaten on 13 minutes when he met a cross at the back post but could only send his header high and wide. Livi then had their first effort on goal five minutes later when Jacobs’ free kick was flicked on by Declan Gallagher to Craig Halkett – he laid the ball into the path of Steven Lawless but he couldn’t keep his shot down.
Rangers should have taken the lead on 19 minutes when Candeias played a superb pass to send Morelos clean through but, with only Kelly to beat, he could only fire his low effort against the post. Ricki Lamie then picked up the game’s first yellow card six minutes later for a foul on Candeias.
The deadlock was broken on 28 minutes and it was a moment to forget for the Livi keeper as Jack fired in a low effort from 25 yards that looked like catching practice for Kelly but unfortunately managed to squirm under the keeper’s body and into the net. It was an uncharacteristic error in what has, up to now, been a stellar season for the 23-year-old.
McCrorie picked up a booking on 34 minutes for a poorly-timed challenge on Jacobs as the half petered out with Rangers holding their one-goal advantage until the interval.
Half-time: Livingston 0-1 Rangers
Livi came out for the second half looking to keep things tight and build their way back into the game but their plans were wrecked within three minutes of the restart as Rangers doubled their lead. Candeias’ low effort was flicked goalwards by Morelos and, although Kelly made a fine stop to deny the Colombian, Kent was on hand to smash the rebound high into the net.
The Lions passed up a big chance to get back into the game on 54 minutes when Gallagher did brilliantly down the right and got to the byline before cutting back for Menga but he was leaning back as he shot and could only send his effort high over the bar.
Livi made their first change on 57 minutes as Gregg Wylde came on for Menga, who still appeared troubled by the injury suffered at Tynecastle last week, before a second switch followed ten minutes later, Scott Tiffoney coming on for his home debut in place of Lamie.
The visitors almost grabbed a third on 69 minutes when Kelly fumbled a high ball under pressure from Morelos and the Colombian fired wide. Rangers, and Morelos, weren’t to be denied though and did make it 3-0 five minutes later when Halkett conceded possession and Arfield released Morelos who skipped round Kelly before slotting home from the tightest of angles to spark another cringeworthy pitch invasion from the travelling support.
Livi made their final switch on 76 minutes, Sibbald coming on for Chris Erskine, while the visitors made a double change at the same time, sending on Jermain Defoe and Steven Davis for Morelos and Kent.
As Rangers perhaps took their foot off the pedal, Livi finished strongly and Wylde saw an effort fly over the bar ten minutes from time. Andy Halliday replaced Borna Barisic in Rangers’ final change before Jacobs picked up a yellow card for a foul on Candeias.
Livi came close to a consolation in the final minute as Pittman fired in a powerful effort from close range that was well saved by Allan McGregor. Tiffoney then should have had a penalty when he burst clean through before being bundled over by Joe Worrall but the referee waved away the appeals as Rangers claimed their first win at the Tony Macaroni Arena in five attempts.
Full-time: Livingston 0-3 Rangers
Livingston: Kelly, Gallagher, Halkett, Lithgow, Lamie (Tiffoney 67), Lawless, Byrne, Pittman, Jacobs, Erskine (Sibbald 76), Menga (Wylde 59)
Subs not used: Stewart, Brown, Lawson, Cadden
Rangers: McGregor; Tavernier, Worrall, Katic, Barisic (Halliday 82), McCrorie, Jack, Arfield; Candeias, Morelos (Defoe 76), Kent (Davis 76)
Subs not used: Foderingham, Coulibaly, McAuley, Middleton
Goals: Jack (30), Kent (48), Morelos (74)
Referee: Kevin Clancy
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine