Rangers maintained their impressive start to the season with a relatively comfortable 2-0 win against Hamilton.
Early goals from Ianis Hagi and James Tavernier were more than enough to put the game beyond a youthful Hamilton side, who deserve credit for digging in and ensuring the result was no worse than it certainly could’ve been.
Scoring goals has been Accies achilles’ heel so far this season and they struggled to create much going forward, but were unlucky not to reduce the deficit late on when Shaun Want’s header was clawed off the line by Jon McLaughlin.
The impressive Ryan Kent put in a top-notch performance but his teammates could not convert any of the chances that he created. Steven Gerrard was left frustrated in that sense but was understandably delighted with a sixth straight clean sheet – the first time a Scottish Premiership team hasn’t conceded in their opening six games of a season since 1998.
Hamilton made three changes to the side that started against Motherwell last week. Charlie Trafford, Reegan Mimnaugh and Andrew Winter all started, in place of Justin Johnson, David Moyo and David Templeton. Lewis Smith missed after picking up an injury on Thursday.
Gerrard made one change from the win at Ibrox against Kilmarnock as Cedric Itten dropped out after picking up a calf injury, and was replaced by Ianis Hagi who had a point to prove after a slow start to the domestic season so far.
Lille target Alfredo Morelos has improved his application after being completely bombed out last weekend, but remained on the bench.
Rangers began the game the much brighter side, and it was they who forced the first chance of the game inside the opening four minutes. Brandon Barker used his pace to full effect before doing well to deliver a ball to the back post for James Tavernier to volley just over.
The visitors continued to pressure, with it looking only a matter of time until the deadlock was broken and on 15 minutes, they grabbed the lead.
Borna Barisic looked set to cross, but was held up by Scott Martin, and after the Accies midfielder slipped Barisic found Steven Davis with a short pass before the Northern Ireland captain swung a super ball into a packed danger zone.
Kemar Roofe’s initial effort came off the bar, and before Scott McMann could punt the ball clear, Ianis Hagi latched onto the loose ball and blasted it into the net from close range beyond a helpless Ryan Fulton.
Five minutes later, Rangers doubled their lead and it was 2-0. Ryan Kent was this time was the provider as his brilliant cross was a seriously difficult one to defend and coming in at the back post to slam home the rebound into the back of the net was James Tavernier.
Rangers meant business and Hagi came close to adding number three minutes later, playing a super one-two with Kent before volleying at Fulton.
Hamilton’s only real chance of the first half came when Ross Callachan and Martin combined well on the edge of the area to set up former Rangers man Lee Hodson, but his effort deflected straight into the palms of Jon McLaughlin.
As the second half got underway, it continued to be one-way traffic. Brandon Barker missed from close-range before Ryan Jack then hit the post with a lobbed effort from inside the area.
The visitors were causing Hamilton problems all afternoon down the flanks and Kemar Roofe should’ve done better to glance home a Barker cross.
At the other end, Accies eventually tested Jon McLaughlin for first time on 73 minutes as he scooped away Shaun Want’s front post header from a corner.
That sparked a bit of life into Accies and they began to build some momentum, but as the final of corner was swung in, it was again cleared and as Gerrard’s side broke up the park, McMann was shown a second yellow card for a cynical challenge on Brandon Barker.
18-year-old Kyle Munro came on to make an impressive Accies debut, and to be honest that was probably one of very few positives to take from the game for Hamilton fans.
Next up for Hamilton is a trip to the Toni Macaroni Arena to face Livingston, who picked up their first three points of the season on Saturday with a narrow 1-0 win against Ross County.
Full Time: Hamilton 0-2 Rangers
Hamilton Head Coach Brian Rice said to AcciesTV, “The first half we showed them far too much respect. We sat too deep and weren’t getting up there in their faces and being aggressive enough. In the second half when we changed it and went man for man. I told them to get up against their man and go with them and make it more difficult for them. I thought the second half performance was decent.”
Rangers Head Coach Steven Gerrard said to BBC SPORT, “We were excellent to go one and two up but then we became really wasteful. It’s not a concern but it’s certainly an area we need to work on.”
HAMILTON ACADEMICAL: Fulton, Odoffin, McMann, Martin, Ogkmpoe (Moyo, 83), Want, Trafford (Hamilton, 45), Mimnaugh (Munro, 77), Winter (Smith, 83), Hodson, Callachan.
SUBS NOT USED: Gourlay, Templeton, Fjortorft, Owolabi, Johnson.
RANGERS: McLaughlin, Tavernier, Helander, Goldson, Hagi (Arfield, 83) Jack, Davis, Kent, Barker, Roofe (Stewart, 90), Barisic.
SUBS NOT USED: McGregor, Bassey, Patterson, Kamara, Morelos, Jones, Balogun.