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Late Morelos winner puts Rangers within four points of title
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Alfredo Morelos celebrates
Alfredo Morelos’ (centre) late winner sparked wild celebrations at the Tony Macaroni Arena

Alfredo Morelos’ late winner at Livingston moved Rangers to within four points of the Scottish Premiership title – but manager Steven Gerrard was sent off for debating a “bang out of order” refereeing decision.

Gerrard was shown two yellow cards at half-time by John Beaton, who booked Morelos for diving after a challenge by Livingston goalkeeper Max Stryjek.

But Morelos netted with three minutes left to edge Rangers closer to glory.

“It’s a stonewaller,” Gerrard said.

“What I can’t stand for at this level is three people making the same mistake. They all had clear views of it. I could see it and I’m the furthest away.

“They all got it wrong together – I can’t have that. I asked for an explanation and [Beaton] refused to speak to me. You are talking about officials at a top level of the game.”

Regardless, the victory for Rangers means Gerrard’s men will be crowned champions if they beat St Mirren at Ibrox on Saturday and Celtic drop points at Dundee United the following day.

As for Livingston, they remain fifth but still have a game in hand to extend the one-point gap between themselves and sixth-placed St Mirren.

The hosts started in their usual industrious fashion, pouncing on loose balls while preventing Rangers from getting a grip early on, as both Scott Pittman and Gavin Reilly tried their luck with tame efforts.

While Gerrard’s side enjoyed the majority of possession as the half wore on, they struggled to create anything of note as Livingston remained disciplined in their defensive shape. In fact, the visitors failed to register a single shot in the opening half hour.

Instead, it was Sunday’s defeated League Cup finalists who looked the more threatening as slack defending from Filip Helander resulted in Scott Robinson sliding a ball back to Jason Holt, but the Swede recovered well to block the effort.

The game began to spark into life as Rangers saw their first glimmer of the home goal. Joe Aribo got himself to the bye-line before his attempted cut-back was turned behind by Stryjek, then Helander powered over an outswinging Borna Barisic corner.

It was then the opposing left-back’s turn to whip in a dangerous ball of his own, as Jullien Serrano bended in a teasing cross towards Robinson, who failed to get enough on the finish to divert it towards goal.

Then came the drama. Morelos found himself in behind the Livingston backline before knocking the ball past Stryjek. The goalkeeper appeared to catch the striker with an arm, sending him tumbling, but referee Beaton judged the Colombian to have dived and showed him a yellow card.

Scott Arfield then passed up a glorious chance, as a low cross from Ryan Kent took a nick before breaking back towards the midfielder, who rolled a right-footed finish just passed the post.

The Morelos decision clearly riled Gerrard, with his protests to Beaton as the teams went off at the break resulting in two yellow cards for the Rangers manager and a seat in the stand for the second half.

Gerrard was on his feet early in the second half though, as Connor Goldson headed home from a deep free-kick – but his celebrations were cut short as the centre-back was marginally offside.

The hosts still posed a threat as a wicked Josh Mullin ball dropped just short of Robinson but the league leaders continued to press as Morelos again found himself in on goal, this time forcing Stryjek down to his right to save.

Morelos continued to pose the biggest danger and was a constant option in behind the Livingston backline as twice he drilled wide across goal before failing to divert a close-range header on target.

However, the striker would get the goal his performance deserved after 87 minutes, tapping in to spark wild celebrations after Stryjek pushed away a Steven Davis strike.

Man of match – Alfredo Morelos

Jon Guthrie Alfredo Morelos
Morelos’ effort was exceptional as he fought on despite his booking and missed chances before netting the winner

What did we learn?

No one is learning anything new by saying that this Rangers side are relentless, but their record is quite frankly ridiculous.

Taking 85 points from 92 on offer is a truly staggering return, and factor in 23 clean sheets and nine goals conceded from 31 games to the equation too and we really are watching one of the best top-flight teams Scottish football has seen in modern times.

Morelos also appears to be hitting his best run of the season. He has now been directly involved in 12 goals in his last eight games – scoring six and assisting six.

Livingston came within minutes of holding Rangers to a second goalless draw of the season, but having won 11 of his first 14 games in charge, Martindale is now without victory in five.

The West Lothian club still sit in fifth, which would be a remarkable achievement in Martindale’s first season. The Livingston manager has spoken about pushing for fourth but, with just eight games remaining and eight points between themselves and Aberdeen, time is running out.

What they said

Martindale ‘gutted’ for Livingston players

Livingston head coach David Martindale: “We got a wee bit lucky in the first half. I think it was a penalty looking back. We had a few chances in the game ourselves we’ve got to a wee bit better with.

“Then we lose a goal so late on, I’m gutted for the players because the performance was there tonight. The focus has got to be on Motherwell now.”

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard to RangersTV: “Never doubt our spirit. The fans epitomise and demand that. It’s my job to demand the dressing room gives the fans what they want.

“We haven’t done that consistently up until this season, but you have seen this season we have a group of players that’ll do everything to make these fans happy. We’re super close.”

What’s next?

Rangers continue their charge towards the Premiership on Saturday (15:00 GMT) as they host St Mirren, while Livingston travel to Motherwell on the same day.

Player of the match

MorelosAlfredo Morelos

Livingston

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    6.01

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    5.95

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    5.91

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    5.90

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    5.89

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    5.89

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    5.84

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    5.75

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    5.71

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    5.65

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    5.58

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    5.50

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    5.50

  14. Average rating

    5.39

Rangers

  1. Average rating

    7.58

  2. Average rating

    7.26

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    7.04

  4. Average rating

    7.01

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    7.01

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    6.99

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    6.91

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    6.83

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    6.81

  10. Average rating

    6.71

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    6.64

  12. Average rating

    6.21

  13. Average rating

    5.48

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Livingston 0, Rangers 1.

  2. Second Half ends, Livingston 0, Rangers 1.

  3. Connor Goldson (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  4. Foul by Marvin Bartley (Livingston).

  5. Connor Goldson (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Foul by Jack Fitzwater (Livingston).

  7. Attempt blocked. Scott Tiffoney (Livingston) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Marvin Bartley.

  8. Allan McGregor (Rangers) is shown the yellow card.

  9. Substitution, Rangers. Bongani Zungu replaces Ryan Kent.

  10. Connor Goldson (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  11. Foul by Scott Tiffoney (Livingston).

  12. Borna Barisic (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Foul by Nicky Devlin (Livingston).

  14. Goal! Livingston 0, Rangers 1. Alfredo Morelos (Rangers) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom right corner.

  15. Attempt saved. Steven Davis (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Cedric Itten.

  16. Connor Goldson (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Foul by Scott Pittman (Livingston).

  18. Attempt saved. Alfredo Morelos (Rangers) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Steven Davis.

  19. Steven Davis (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Foul by Marvin Bartley (Livingston).

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