Rangers laboured to a 1-0 victory away to St. Mirren on Sunday, earning the points thanks to a stunning Borna Barisic goal.
Nevertheless, it was a difficult watch for the fans of Steven Gerrard's side. They looked short of match-fitness and made numerous errors, though the win could well have been more straightforward after countless chances went begging.
The frustration set in barely two minutes into the contest, with Jermaine Defoe's poor attempt at a finish sending the ball behind for a goal-kick after the striker had been slipped through one-on-one.
Can't believe Defoe missed that Jesus Christ— CJ (@Cjnovo992) August 25, 2019
The blame was laid at Defoe's feet for that miss, though he cannot be faulted for failing to take advantage of deliveries from out wide. Gers' crosses were far too high and the ex-Tottenham Hotspur man is far too, well, small.
Why do we seem to cross the ball more with Defoe in the team than Morelos?— BIG BUFF FAN (@CemetryGates89) August 25, 2019
It's not just his lack of height that made Defoe ill-suited to this game, however. He's simply not aggressive enough to cope with St. Mirren's approach to defending, but half-man-half-red-card Alfredo Morelos certainly has the necessary vigour.
Honestly, this game is for someone like Alfredo. Defoe is a voracious scorer, a finisher, but not an attacker who must maneuver with the ball between the pack of opponents. Morelos puts the physical game and surprise.— Hernán Pacheco (@hernanfpacheco) August 25, 2019
St mirren players very dirty on Defoe anyone agree?— Morrell Jamison (@MorrelllovesLFC) August 25, 2019
Aside from an early miss and the bullying of Defoe, there was very little to write home about in the first quarter of the game.
And then - despite barely stepping over the halfway line - the hosts hit the crossbar and had a shout for a penalty. In fact, they had a very good shout for a penalty...
.— Tommy Docherty (@TommyDoc36) August 25, 2019
Highlight of the first half was that time St Mirren ventured outside their own box and hit the The Rangers woodwork with a speculative, cross-cum-blooter oot the park.
Jonathan Obika's cross clattering the crossbar may well have been a highlight for St. Mirren supporters, but a low point will surely be the officials' decision not to give them a spot-kick.
St Mirren denied a stonwall penalty, im shocked— tony gordon (@gordon_tony) August 25, 2019
Other end though it’s a penalty— Mark L (@MarkMirren) August 25, 2019
Tiny trip by Obika first
The half petered out thereafter and big predictions were made about how the second 45 would go...
In the second half they will score at leaast 3 goals— Yasin (@yasinn6100) August 25, 2019
If Rangers don’t score by 70 minutes they will get a dodgy penalty or a St Mirren player will get a red card. It’s obvious that behind the scenes the agenda is to make sure Rangers get 3 points no matter what— spike the wee dug (@Spiketheweedug) August 25, 2019
It didn't take too long for the first of those three Rangers goals - as foreseen by Yasin - to be scored as a sumptuous free-kick from Borna Barisic gave Steven Gerrard's men the lead.
Looks like one fan had spoken too soon...
Barisic has done absolutely nothing.— Curtis 🇭🇷🇧🇦 (@1872Curtis) August 25, 2019
To be fair to Curtis, the Croat had been a ghost for much of the encounter, but that whipped effort from the dead-ball was glorious.
Borna Barisic cant run or pass but boy can he take a free kick.— . (@Footballstewart) August 25, 2019
If ever a player needed a goal like that it was Borna Barisic. Some hit - and it's just as important for Rangers. A crucial breakthrough on a sticky day.— Andrew Dickson (@mrandrewdickson) August 25, 2019
Sweet relief! Rangers were on their way to the three points courtesy of a wonderful strike, but some supporters were struggling to believe it...
Wtf, Borna is scoring screamers and Gerrard is making good subs at good times, what parallel universe did I get transported to?— 🇬🇧 𝙍𝙖𝙢𝙥𝙖𝙣𝙩 𝙍𝙮𝙖𝙣 𝙅𝙖𝙘𝙠 🇬🇧 (@RampantRyanJack) August 25, 2019
The Glaswegians should have had a two-goal cushion when Defoe went through on the 'keeper once more, yet the 36-year-old was unable to round off the move.
He was fortunate to get the opportunity, however, after appearing to tug the St Mirren defender when breaking beyond the backline. Still, some fans thought it ludicrous to suggest it was a foul...
Loving BT trying to claim Defoe fouled the defender. Aye right lads.— Scot Heart and Hand (@ScotHeartHand) August 25, 2019
Both sides went in search of a second score of the game as the finish-line came into sight, but their respective searches ended up fruitless.
A win for Rangers and they were sitting pretty at the top of the Scottish Premiership.