Goals From Hagi & Tavernier Give Gers Three Points

IANIS HAGI opened the scoring for the Gers in the 15th minute before James Tavernier scored the second five minutes later for a 2-0 win in Hamilton.

RANGERS continued their strong start to the Scottish Premiership season with a dominant victory at Hamilton Academical tonight.

First-half goals from Ianis Hagi and James Tavernier secured the three points for the Light Blues meaning only a big swing in goal difference tomorrow will prevent them being top of the table going into the international break.

Manager Steven Gerrard named one change to his starting XI with Ianis Hagi replacing Cedric Itten for this evening kick-off under bright skies here in South Lanarkshire.

The Light Blues gaffer stuck with the same team that defeated Kilmarnock last week barring Romanian international Hagi coming in for Itten, the Swiss’ striker missing out today with a calf issue.

The Light Blues began the game the brighter with a good pace to their play, and it was they who forced the first chance of the game inside the opening four minutes, Brandon Barker doing well to deliver a ball under pressure to the back post for James Tavernier to volley just over.

The visitors continued to pressure, and on 15 minutes, they grabbed the lead. Down the left, Borna Barisic shaped to cross, but was held up by Scott Martin. Coming behind him, however, was Steven Davis, and Barisic found him with a short pass before the Northern Ireland captain swung a super ball into an area packed with black and orange shirted players.

Getting his head to it was Kemar Roofe – his effort coming off the bar, and before Scott McMann could hoof the ball clear, Ianis Hagi pounced to blast the ball into the net from close range for his first competitive goal of the season to hand the Light Blues the lead they craved.

Five minutes later, and with the football flowing in only one direction, it was 2-0. Ryan Kent this time was the provider, shifting beautifully away from Hakeem Odoffin, again down that left-hand side, and his brilliant, fizzing cross was just too hot for goalkeeper Ryan Fulton to handle.

Coming in at the back post to poke the loose ball into the back of the net was skipper James Tavernier, this being his first goal of the season and his first since he grabbed a double against Aberdeen on September 28 last year.

Rangers were rampant, and Hagi came close to number three on 23 minutes, playing a super one-two with Kent before volleying at Fulton at the back stick.

Reegan Mimnaugh denied Brandon Barker going one-on-one with Fulton with a super tackle, while on the transition, Kemar Roofe fired one wide following terrific interplay with Kent.

Kent tested Fulton with a 25-yard drive as half-time approached, but 1-0 is how the scores were to remain at the interval.

The second half began as the first had ended, with Gers in total command.

Brandon Barker fired a Ryan Jack ball which was dropped into his feet wide from an angle, while Jack then hit the post with a lobbed effort from the right after another nice combination with Kent.

Kemar Roofe couldn’t quite adjust to nod home a Barker cross with the winger having skinned Jamie Hamilton down the left, while Kent fired another effort from distance just wide.

Kent was denied at the last possible moment by McMann as he was sent clear by Hagi on a break from a well-defended Accies corner, while Hagi himself headed a Kent cross just over.

It was just chance after chance for Gers, and Hagi was denied again by another super late McMann block, while Fil Helander got his head to a Tavernier cross though Fulton was able to hold on.

At the other end, Accies tested Jon McLaughlin properly for the first time on 73 minutes as he clawed away Shaun Want’s front post header from a corner.

That sparked a succession of Accies corners, but as the final of those was again cleared and Gers broke up the park, McMann was shown a second yellow card for bringing down Brandon Barker as he looked to go clear of the defender.

Kemar Roofe headed over a terrific Borna Barisic cross, and after a bit of a scramble in the area, neither Kent nor Steven Davis could bury the loose, bobbling ball.

But 2-0 is how it finished with Gers not back in action for a fortnight when they face Dundee United at Ibrox.

RANGERS: McLaughlin, Tavernier, Helander, Goldson, Hagi (Arfield, 83) Jack, Davis, Kent, Barker, Roofe (Stewart, 90), Barisic.

SUBS NOT USED: McGregor, Bassey, Patterson, Kamara, Morelos, Jones, Balogun.

HAMILTON ACADEMICAL: Fulton, Odoffin, McMann, Martin, Ogkmpoe (Moyo, 83), Want, Trafford (Hamilton, 45), Mimnaugh (Munro, 77), Winter (Smith, 83), Hodson, Callachan.

SUBS NOT USED: Gourlay, Templeton, Fjortorft, Owolabi, Johnson.