Livingston 0-1 Rangers: Alfredo Morelos scores late winner after Steven Gerrard was shown a RED CARD for complaining about referee turning down a penalty shout for the Colombian striker
- Alfredo Morelos scored a late winner to see Rangers beat Livingston 1-0
- Rangers manager Steven Gerrard had to watch Morelos’ goal from the stand
- Gerrard was sent off at half-time for comments to the referee John Beaton
- The result means Rangers will be crowned champions if they beat St Mirren
Ten minutes into the second half of this last gasp Rangers victory at the Tony Macaroni Arena the skies above West Lothian were suddenly lit up by a spectacular and sustained pyrotechnics display.
But when the smoke had cleared on three more points towards the title for the Ibrox side, the impressive sound and light show still played second fiddle to the half time fireworks that occurred as Steven Gerrard was shown a red card by John Beaton.
Minutes earlier the match official had blundered by incorrectly booking visiting striker Alfredo Morelos for simulation in the box as he tumbled under a dive by Livvy keeper Max Strykek.
Alfredo Morelos scored a late winner to see Rangers beat Livingstone 1-0 on Wednesday
Replays showed that contact was clearly made and a penalty should have been awarded to Rangers for a foul on the Colombian, who would have the last laugh with a winning goal three minutes from time.
But when the first half ended, an irate Gerrard marched onto the park and his criticism of Beaton’s error was picked up by the Sky Sports cameras.
‘So you’re not speaking to me?,’ stated the Rangers boss.
‘I know why you’re not speaking to me – because you were f****** bang wrong. You’re bang out of order.’
Shown a yellow card for that first verbal volley, a second followed for the former Liverpool and England captain from Beaton for complaints that were not picked up by Sky’s microphones.
Who says there is no title tension in the Scottish Premiership? Even if Morelos’ late, late show saw Rangers stretch their lead at the top over rivals Celtic to 18 points.
However, Rangers manager Steven Gerrard had to watch Morelos’ goal from the stand
Gerrard was sent off at half-time for the comments he made to the referee John Beaton
But Gerrard now faces a sweat to find out whether he is banned for the next Old Firm game of the season at Parkhead on March 21: a date when Rangers could clinch the title.
Livvy boss David Martindale had made four changes from the side that lost Sunday’s Betfred Cup final 1-0 to St Johnstone at Hampden.
Out went on loan Rangers keeper Robby McCrorie, who was unable to play against his parent club, while Efe Ambrose, Steve Lawson and Scott Robinson all dropped out.
In came Stryjek, Jack Fitzwater, Craig Sibbald and Gavin Reilly.
Captain Marvin Bartley was back patrolling his preferred central midfield beat after being played wide left at Hampden in a gamble by David Martindale that did not pay off.
Gerrard made two changes to the side that beat Royal Antwerp 5-2 at Ibrox last Thursday — and 9-5 on aggregate — to reach the last 16 of the Europa League.
Out dropped Leon Balogun and Ianis Hagi. There was a first league start for Nathan Patterson while Scott Arfield returned to the midfield.
Scott Pittman dragged an early shot wide but it was slim pickings for Rangers as the Lions bared their teeth and put the visitors under constant pressure.
Gerrard complained about the fact Morelos had been given a yellow card for ‘diving’
But there was an early blow for Livvy when striker Reilly pulled up while chasing a long ball. His place was taken by Robinson, whose rest after his exertions up front at Hampden proved short-lived.
Robinson had a shot at goal blocked by Filip Helander, whose intervention made up for losing possession in midfield to Bartley in the first place.
Rangers then thought they had scored when Helander rose highest to meet an outswinging corner by Borna Barisic. But his header landed on the roof of Stryjek’s net.
Then came that controversy that enraged Gerrard when Morelos was felled by Stryjek as he ran onto a through ball from Steven Davis.
Then Sibbald tried to block Arfield pulling the trigger from 12 yards but caught the midfielder after he had dispatched a shot wide.
Livingston: Stryjek, Devlin, Fitzwater, Guthrie, Serrano, Bartley, Holt, Sibbald, Pittman, Mullin, Reilly
Rangers: McGregor, Patterson, Goldson, Helander, Barisic, Kamara, Davis, Arfield, Aribo, Kent, Morelos
The Rangers bench roared for a penalty but it was a weaker claim than the first.
With Gerrard now watching from the stand, the second half saw Connor Goldson head in a Barisic free kick only to be ruled offside.
Then came those fireworks in the 55th minute — a strong clue that they had been organised by Rangers fans to celebrate the club’s imminent 55th title.
Then Morelos burst through on goal and shot wide when a square ball for teammates Kent and Itten would have been the wiser option.
Dogged Livvy had six men booked as they tried to hold on to ensure the Tony Macaroni Arena is the only venue Rangers had not won at this season in the Premiership.
But changed in the 87th minute as Livingston’s defence was finally broken down.
Tenacious work by Kamara ended with Itten setting Davis up for a shot on goal.
Saved by Stryjek, Morelos ensured poetic justice by tapping the ball home, sparking wild celebrations in the Rangers camp.
What a turnaround it has been in 12 months for the Ibrox side.
Exactly a year ago today (March 4) the Ibrox club was losing 1-0 at home to Hamilton Accies.
The result means Rangers will be crowned champions if they beat St Mirren on Saturday
In his programme notes, captain James Tavenier had underlined the weakness in his squad by admitting that Rangers players simply could not handle the opposition getting in their faces.
Those words came hot on the heels of a grim Scottish Cup quarter final loss against soon-to-be-relegated Hearts at Tynecastle with the Steven Gerrard era looking like it may soon be over.
But fast forward a year and the only place Gerrard is going is into Rangers folklore alongside his runaway champions-elect — possibly via a disciplinary hearing at Hampden Park.
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