Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has backed “outstanding” Scott Wright to step in should Ianis Hagi fail to recover from injury for Tuesday’s Champions League qualifier in Malmo.
Both players netted as Rangers began their Scottish Premiership title defence with victory over Livingston.
Romanian forward Hagi was replaced by Wright on the half hour after a crunching challenge from Adam Lewis.
“He potentially may miss Tuesday,” Gerrard told Sky Sports.
“Scott could have started today. His performances in pre-season have been outstanding. We’re working on him a lot.
“He’s quick and got his rewards from another strong performance. He’s really in my thinking for Tuesday night.”
Gerrard’s side, unbeaten in the league last season with a 100% home record, surged into an early lead when Hagi lashed high into the net.
But their threat was blunted until Wright curled a sublime finish into the far corner with the outside of his boot, before fellow substitute Kemar Roofe added a last-minute third.
Livingston failed to muster a shot on target, with Ayo Obileye horribly miscuing a free header in the first half.
Rangers’ Premiership unbeaten streak now stands at 40 matches – including a club record 20 successive home wins – and the late flurry put a more realistic complexion on a result that never looked in doubt.
The new season heralds the return of supporters in significant numbers to Scottish football stadia, and the 23,000 home fans had barely taken their seat before they were rising to applaud the opener in a relentless Rangers start.
Hagi, all alone at the back post, killed James Tavernier’s free-kick with one touch. He feigned to shoot, selling two Livingston players a dummy, and stepped inside to rifle a shot into the top corner.
Goalkeeper Max Stryjek was soon clawing away a bouncing strike from Joe Aribo as Livingston came under siege.
However, while dominating possession, Rangers were unable to further trouble Livingston in the first half. Striker Fashion Sakala struggled to influence proceedings in a quiet debut before being replaced by Roofe on 70 minutes.
Livingston weathered the early storm but were too wasteful in possession to trouble Jon McLaughlin on a rare league start in the Rangers goal.
Wright staked his claim for regular action by reviving Rangers as an attacking force. The forward sent a dipping volley narrowly over and had a header saved before pouncing on a loose ball in the box to brilliantly double the hosts’ advantage.
That cued a late barrage against the tiring visitors, who were down to 10 men after Jaze Kabia – one of three substitutes used – had to go off injured.
Roofe capitalised on poor defending to blast in from six yards and Glen Kamara should have made it four when he slid in at the back post to fire wide.
Man of the match – Scott Wright
What did we learn?
Rangers picked up where they left off last season by maintaining their flawless home form.
This wasn’t the champions at their free-flowing best and they lacked cohesion and tempo going forward after taking the lead.
There’s clearly more to come from Gerrard’s side, while Livingston’s new signings were given a harsh introduction to life in the top flight.
The visitors deserve credit for stemming the flow after a disastrous start, but were simply overwhelmed by Rangers’ superior quality in the end.
What did they say?
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard told Sky Sports: “We were good for large parts. But after the first goal our mentality changed, we complicated the game, everyone was taking an extra touch.
“From 2-0 to the end of the game we were fantastic again so it was just that middle part.”
Livingston manager David Martindale told Sky Sports: “Really disappointed in the first goal as it came from a set-play. We have to defend better. Rangers definitely deserved to win but 3-0 flattered them slightly.”
Rangers turn their attention to the Champions League, with a first-leg qualifier away to Malmo on Tuesday (18:00 BST), while Livingston host Aberdeen in the Premiership next Sunday (15:00).
Player of the match
with an average of 9.06
Squad number2Player nameTavernier
Squad number10Player nameDavis
Squad number25Player nameRoofe
Squad number23Player nameWright
Squad number7Player nameHagi
Squad number6Player nameGoldson
Squad number14Player nameKent
Squad number18Player nameKamara
Squad number3Player nameBassey
Squad number26Player nameBalogun
Squad number4Player nameLundstram
Squad number33Player nameMcLaughlin
Squad number17Player nameAribo
Squad number30Player nameSakala
Squad number32Player nameStryjek
Squad number21Player nameMcMillan
Squad number37Player nameKabia
Squad number6Player nameObileye
Squad number5Player nameFitzwater
Squad number8Player namePittman
Squad number18Player nameHolt
Squad number23Player nameHamilton
Squad number10Player nameSibbald
Squad number16Player nameLewis
Squad number2Player nameDevlin
Squad number29Player namePenrice
Squad number9Player nameAnderson
Squad number17Player nameForrest
- 17AriboSubstituted forLundstramat 64′minutes
- 7HagiSubstituted forWrightat 31′minutes
- 30SakalaSubstituted forRoofeat 71′minutes
- 16LewisBooked at 13minsSubstituted forKabiaat 56′minutesSubstituted forat 80′minutes
- 10SibbaldBooked at 60minsSubstituted forDevlinat 64′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 17ForrestBooked at 25mins
- 9AndersonSubstituted forHamiltonat 67′minutes
- 29PenriceBooked at 87mins
- John Beaton
Match ends, Rangers 3, Livingston 0.
Second Half ends, Rangers 3, Livingston 0.
Nicky Devlin (Livingston) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Calvin Bassey (Rangers) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Nicky Devlin (Livingston).
Attempt missed. Glen Kamara (Rangers) left footed shot from very close range is high and wide to the left. Assisted by John Lundstram.
Attempt missed. John Lundstram (Rangers) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Scott Wright.
Goal! Rangers 3, Livingston 0. Kemar Roofe (Rangers) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner.
Attempt missed. James Tavernier (Rangers) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Steven Davis.
Foul by Kemar Roofe (Rangers).
Jack McMillan (Livingston) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. James Tavernier (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
James Penrice (Livingston) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Ryan Kent (Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by James Penrice (Livingston).
Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Jack Fitzwater.
Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Jack Fitzwater.
Attempt missed. Calvin Bassey (Rangers) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Ryan Kent.
Offside, Rangers. Connor Goldson tries a through ball, but Ryan Kent is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Connor Goldson (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Ryan Kent.
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