Rangers captain James Tavernier opened the scoring directly from a free-kick

Dominant Rangers strolled to victory over St Johnstone to move up to second in the Scottish Premiership.

With league leaders Hearts and Celtic dropping points, Steven Gerrard’s side moved above their rivals and narrowed the gap on top spot to five points.

Goals from James Tavernier, Alfredo Morelos, Scott Arfield and Kyle Lafferty gave the hosts a 4-0 lead.

A Blair Alston penalty pulled one back for St Johnstone, but Daniel Candeias soon made it five.

St Johnstone were left to rue a David Wotherspoon miss from close range with the scores still at 0-0, while Tony Watt and Wotherspoon again passed up a golden chances in the second half.

However, they were very much second best at Ibrox. Tommy Wright’s men welcome Celtic to Perth in Wednesday’s League Cup quarter-final.

Rangers boosted

News of Celtic’s last-gasp defeat at Kilmarnock gave Rangers added incentive, while Hearts’ draw with Livingston on Saturday had opened up the chance to close the gap at the top.

Joe Shaughnessy’s trip on Tavernier handed Rangers a free-kick on the edge of the box and the Ibrox skipper curled the ball over the ball and into the net.

Tavernier hit the bar with another free-kick, while Saints goalkeeper Zander Clark denied Ryan Kent from close range and Ricky Foster cleared a Lassana Coulibaly header off the line.

But the second arrived when Morelos cut back onto his left foot to smash past Clark from inside the box.

Kent rattled the bar from Morelos’ cut-back, but Arfield latched on to the rebound to rifle in a third.

Jon Flanagan was lucky his slack back-pass was not punished by Watt as the former Celtic striker clipped wide of Allan McGregor’s post.

Clark did well to keep the score down as he turned away efforts from Kent and Arfield, but substitute Lafferty swept home a fourth from a flowing counter-attack.

Alston earned his side a spot-kick three minutes later as he was tripped by Connor Goldson, and hammered it down the middle.

But soon the gap was four again when Candeias finished after being teed up by Arfield.

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