Rangers roll over Lincoln Red Imps under Rock of Gibraltar
Steven Gerrard’s team progress to the Europa League third qualifying round.
Rangers steamrolled over Lincoln Red Imps under the Rock of Gibraltar as they dished out a 5-0 Europa League drubbing.
Steven Gerrard’s team were back at the Victoria Stadium 12 months on from beating St Joseph’s in last year’s opening qualifier.
This time they kicked off their continental campaign against a side who famously upset Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic side in 2016.
But there was little danger of the Ibrox men suffering the same kind of humiliation dished out to their Old Firm rivals once skipper James Tavernier netted for the third game running with a stunning set-piece.
Gers cruised to victory on the southern tip of Spain with substitute Alfredo Morelos netting a double to reach 20 goals in Europe for the club, while Connor Goldson and Jermain Defoe also contributed to a result which books them a trip to Holland to face Willem II in a week’s time.
Gerrard made six changes to the team who put four past Dundee United on Saturday, with goalkeeper Allan McGregor and striker Cedric Itten among those recalled.
In the hosts’ line-up was Lee Casciaro, the forward who has made himself the answer to pub quiz questions for years to come by netting goals against both Celtic and Scotland.
And he almost completed the set just four minutes in as he flashed a header over McGregor’s crossbar.
But that was all the Scots had to worry about under the imposing rock face
Red Imps got men behind the ball in an effort to deny Gers time and space in the final third but it was only ever a matter of time before the Light Blues found a breakthrough.
Ianis Hagi’s trickery in tight spaces made him a marked man and he found himself on the receiving end of some rough treatment.
The Romanian was dumped to the floor just outside the box by home skipper Roy Chipolina on 21 minutes.
The free-kick was positioned perfectly for Tavernier, who swept a sublime strike over the wall and past Kyle Goldwin to give Gerrard just the start he was looking for.
But there was concern on the manager’s face seven minutes before the break, when Roofe pulled up with an apparent calf injury.
Having seen four of his men hurt against United, Gerrard was taking no chances and immediately whipped the former Leeds ace off, with young full-back Nathan Paterson introduced and Tavernier pushed up to right wing.
But there was some cheer for the Gers bench in the fourth minute of stoppage time as Rangers struck again. Jack Sergeant’s foul on Hagi wide on the left teed up Borna Barisic to deliver and Goldson powered home with a header.
Tavernier’s work was done, with Morelos introduced at half-time. But McGregor was called on to preserve Gers’ shut-out record – which now stands at eight games if you count the defeat to Bayer Leverkusen as last season – when George Edmundson inexplicably chose to duck as a cross came into his box.
His goalkeeper was there to rescue, however, blocking Chipolina at point-blank range.
It was game over on 67 minutes when the latest Chipolina foul on Hagi allowed Barisic to clip in another teasing cross, with Stewart knocking down for Morelos to tap home his third of the season.
Rangers survived a late penalty shout when Goldson clattered into Casciaro before extending their lead even further with six minutes left as Defoe fired into the corner after Patterson and Hagi combined on the edge of the box.
Defoe then turned provider as he rolled in Morelos to dink the ball over Goldwin with two minutes left.