Morelos at the double as Rangers make European progress
Steven Gerrard’s men are through to the play-offs.
Rangers made the minimum fuss of in completing in the job against FC Midtjylland as they cruised into the Europa League play-offs with a 3-1 Ibrox win.
Steven Gerrard had warned his team to beware of the Danes after seeing Celtic get sucker-punched out of the Champions League by Cluj on Tuesday night.
But the Light Blues made sure to kill the tie early as two goals from Alfredo Morelos either side of a Sheyi Ojo strike sealed a 7-3 aggregate triumph.
The only blot on the night came late on as Evander Da Silva Ferreira was allowed to pull one back for the Wolves.
But it was a display that would have impressed Andy King – watching from the directors box as he waits to seal his loan switch from Leicester – and now sets up a showdown with Legia Warsaw of Poland as Gers look to qualify for the group stage for the second year running.
And having followed up last week’s four-goal romp in Denmark and the 6-1 pasting of Hibernian on Sunday with yet another routine win, Gerrard will be quietly confident of his team’s chances.
Jermain Defoe was the hat-trick hero at the weekend but it was back to the bench for the veteran Englishman as Morelos returned alongside Scott Arfield and Glen Kamara.
The visitors would have been relieved to see Joe Aribo and Jordan Jones also drop out having spent so much of last week’s first leg chasing the pair.
Their mood might have brightened considerably had Mikael Anderson found the corner of Allan McGregor’s net with barely two minutes gone.
He flashed wide but it was a reminder for Rangers that the tie was not yet put to bed.
Thankfully for Gers, there was no doubting their place in the next round by the 14th minute as Morelos fired the opener.
Former Celtic defender Erik Sviatchenko was left looking like he was running through sand as Ojo galloped onto Arfield’s ball down the line.
As the winger looked up he could see Morelos wrestling for space with Rasmus Nicolaisen. It was the Colombian who won that battle of wills before showing his composure as he sidestepped the defender to ram past Jesper Hansen.
Morelos and Ojo then swapped roles as number two arrived six minutes before the break.
Arfield’s sheer tenacity took him past two Danish players before he dived in against Alexander Scholz as he refused to give up the ball. It was a clean tackle and he was soon up to spray wide to Morelos.
A poor first touch denied Gers’ top-scorer another strike at goal but he recovered to find Ojo in the six yard box, with the Liverpool loanee sweeping home for the second.
The youngster was looking confident – enough to even shove skipper James Tavernier out the way as he took over free-kick duties, forcing Hansen into a decent save.
Midtjylland gathered for a Celtic-style huddle before kick-off as they looked to launch a desperate fightback.
But it was a hopeless endeavour and they found themselves even further behind by the 49th minute as Morelos and Ojo linked up once again, with the striker clipping home his ninth goal in eight games this term from another pin-point delivery.
Gers have shown they are capable of switching off a times and they did not escape this clash without a blip as Jon Flanagan’s stray pass was punished when Ferreira struck a consolation effort with 19 minutes left.