Steven Gerrard claims Rangers were close to perfect as they romped to a 6-1 win over Motherwell to take them four points clear at the top of the cinch Premiership.
After falling behind to an early strike by Well defender Bevis Mugabe, the champions went into the interval leading through goals by captain James Tavernier, who was celebrating his 30th birthday, and striker Fashion Sakala, who finished the game with a hat-trick.
Further goals from Glen Kamara and Kemar Roofe completed the rout against the Steelmen, who were reduced to 10 men when captain Stephen O’Donnell was sent off in the 67th minute for picking up the second of two yellow cards.
Acknowledging some indifferent performances recently before a comprehensive victory which took Rangers four points ahead of Old Firm rivals Celtic, Gerrard told Sky Sports: “You’ve got to have belief and trust in your players.
“You’ve always got to be honest with them and I want to be as honest with them as I can.
“At times, we haven’t been ourselves. There’s always been an ingredient missing.
“But today is all about the players. They’ve gone out and performed ever so well.
“There is a saying in life – ‘inch perfect’.
“I thought we were an inch away from being perfect today. All round we were superb.
“I think that’s been coming. It’s almost been in the post. We’ve been waiting for that performance for some time.
“I thought it was back to our identity and how we wanted it to look, for sure.”
Sakala had scored only once in 13 appearances – against Motherwell at Ibrox last month – since signing from Belgian club Oostende in the summer and Gerrard described him as “unplayable” at times.
He said: “Fashion has been waiting to do that. He’s shown glimpses and flashes. We’ve been waiting for him to settle and to get ready.
“He’s been away from his family for some time but we’ve seen the difference in him over the last week to 10 days where he’s looking extra sharp, extra hungry. He’s delivered for his team.
“It takes time. He’s got to get used to his team-mates, they’ve got to get used to him. He’s got to get used to the way we play the game, both sides.
“He’s got to earn that trust on the training pitch. But it just felt different in the last week to 10 days. He showed that in his cameo against Aberdeen (on Wednesday) where he came on and helped us get back in the game.
“Today at times he was unplayable. He’s got that unpredictability about him, and that sheer burning pace. He’s going to cause teams and individuals a lot of problems.”
Motherwell boss Graham Alexander, whose side have now gone five games without a win, said: “The result is a really difficult one to take.
“You don’t want to concede six goals to anybody, so that’s really difficult for us.
“But I thought for 42 minutes our performance was excellent and the game went according to our plan.
“The two goals just before half time turned that on its head a little bit.
“The big moments are the two goals before half time and then the red card, which took the game away from us.”