Match report as Rangers restore nine-point lead over Celtic at top of Scottish Premiership with eight-goal victory over Hamilton; Joe Aribo, Kemar Roofe and James Tavernier score braces, Scott Arfield and Brandon Barker also on target
Rangers restored their nine-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a ruthless 8-0 demolition of Hamilton at Ibrox.
The pressure was on Steven Gerrard’s league leaders to respond after Celtic’s 4-1 victory at Motherwell cut the gap to six points, and respond they did, in devastating fashion.
Scott Arfield opened the floodgates and Rangers were three up inside 19 minutes, as goals from Kemar Roofe and Joe Aribo completed a three-minute three-goal flurry to put the game beyond the Accies.
Aribo and Roofe doubled their tallies either side of the interval before substitute Brandon Barker and a double from captain James Tavernier sealed the biggest and most emphatic victory of Gerrard’s tenure.
Rangers: McLaughlin (7), Tavernier (9), Goldson (8), Balogun (7), Barisic (7), Jack (7), Aribo (9), Arfield (9), Kent (9), Roofe (9), Defoe (7)
Subs: Bassey (7), Hagi (6), Zungu (6), Barker (7), Itten (6).
Hamilton: Fulton (3), Hodson (4), Odoffin (3), Easton (4), McMann (4), Stirling (3), Collar (3), Callachan (3), Hughes (3), Moyo (3), Ogkmpoe (4).
Subs: L Smith (4), Mimnaugh (4), Winter (4).
Man of the Match: James Tavernier.
How rampant Rangers hammered Hamilton
Arfield set Rangers on their way just after the quarter-hour mark, clinically prodding the ball home from Ryan Kent’s cross from the left.
With the floodgates open the second soon followed, Roofe rising high to head James Tavernier’s cross into the bottom corner from six yards.
Two become three on 19 minutes, Aribo’s low drive taking two deflections on its way past the hapless Ryan Fulton in the Hamilton goal.
- Jermain Defoe, Kemar Roofe, Scott Arfield, Leon Balogun and Kon McLaughlin returned as Rangers made five changes from the Europa League draw at Benfica.
- Captain Brian Easton made his first appearance since February and Ben Stirling also returned as Hamilton made two changes from October’s defeat at Aberdeen.
Fulton produced a fine save to keep Kent’s near-post drive out, but Rangers would have another before the break, Aribo doubling his tally with another deflected strike after Roofe brilliantly recycled play.
Gerrard handed Bongani Zungu his debut and introduced Calvin Bassey at the break, and Rangers’ insatiable goal pursuit yielded a fifth within nine minutes of the restart as Roofe rifled in a rebound after Kent’s teasing cross was turned onto the post.
Bassey and Jermain Defoe combined for Rangers’ sixth, with the sweeping move ending with Barker slotting home moments after he came off the bench.
Four minutes later, Defoe was chopped down in the box by Hakeem Odoffin but Tavernier took charge of the set-piece duties, rifling Rangers’ seventh down the centre of the goal.
And Tavernier was on hand to convert a rebound after Roofe’s shot was parried by Fulton, taking the defender’s tally for the season to 12 goals as Rangers’ eighth left them on the cusp of an historic victory.
Defoe very nearly delivered a record-equalling ninth but fired a late effort against the post as he somehow failed to get on the scoresheet on an afternoon when his team-mates ran amok.
Man of the Match – James Tavernier
In a team packed full of stellar performances, it was that of the Rangers captain which really shone.
Tavernier was the driving force behind Rangers’ unwillingness to let up the pace in the second period, scoring two goals to go with his first half assist for Roofe’s opener.
His second-half brace took his tally for the season to a dozen goals in all competitions, a remarkable feat for a defender.
After the international break, Rangers host Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership on November 22 at 12pm
Hamilton face Stranraer at 7.30pm on Wednesday and Albion Rovers at 3pm on Saturday in the group stages of the Scottish League Cup, before returning the Scottish Premiership action at Dundee United on November 21 at 3pm.