Steven Gerrard hailed Ryan Kent’s “world class” goal after the attacker inspired Rangers to a 4-2 win over Ross County in his first start since September.
After recovering from a hamstring injury, Kent had come on as a second-half substitute against Brondby on Thursday night and helped the Gers to a 1-1 Europa League draw in Denmark.
Gerrard pitched him in from the start against the cinch Premiership’s bottom side who shocked the home fans with a Joseph Hungbo goal after five minutes.
However, after Joe Aribo had levelled with a header, Kent put the champions ahead with a wonderful drive from 25 yards.
Juninho Bacuna added a third and County defender Alex Iacovitti scored an own goal before Staggies substitute Jordan White grabbed a late consolation.
Rangers moved four points clear of Celtic at the top of the table as they go in to the international break before resuming with the Premier Sports Cup semi-final against Hibernian at Hampden Park where Gerrard hopes Kent will again be influential.
The Gers boss said: “He has come back in a top place.
“You seen the difference he made from the bench in midweek, I thought he looked really dangerous and sharp and I thought he built on that today with a strong 60 minutes.
“The goal was world class, without a shadow of a doubt.
“We just need to top him up from a physical point of view to make sure he is really flying for the semi-final.”
Gerrard was delighted to see midfielder Ryan Jack get a rousing reception from the fans when he came on in the second half after being out injured since February.
He said: “You could feel that energy, feel that appreciation for what he has given to this club.
“Ryan is the type of person that represents the fans on the pitch and I think you could feel that energy when he came on.
“He deserved that because he has worked ever so hard and he has had some frustrating days.
“He has been down. It is not nice being injured but he has put in a lot of sacrifice and lot of work so I wanted to reward him and boost him.
“Now the next two weeks for Ryan are super important so we can try and get him more ready and try and get him in and around the semi-final as well.”
County boss Malky Mackay left Ibrox harbouring some frustrations.
He said: “I am frustrated with at least a couple of the goals because we see that Aribo goes to the front (post), we know that, so we are frustrated to lose that and we don’t keep it at 1-0 for long enough to allow there to be a wee bit more tension.
“Ryan Kent is a fantastic strike from a fantastic player, it happens, and then at half-time I said to them let’s stay in this game and keep it at 2-1 because anything can and will happen and we will have another chance.
“So I am disappointed with the third one because one of Rangers ‘great strengths is give and go, it is what they do time after time.
“For the fourth one, I accept there is nothing you can do, that is someone trying to stop a goal.
“Proud of them that we kept going and kept trying to play because that was the way to go and play against them and we got a good second goal.”
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