THERE was a realisation for Rangers that the 4-0 win over Willem II in midweek flattered them somewhat. This 5-1 victory certainly didn’t, not in the slightest.

This scoreline was emphatic, but the performance was even more accomplished as Steven Gerrard’s side returned to Premiership action and ensured they retained top spot.

Rangers had travelled to Holland on the back of a damaging draw with Hibernian as two crucial league points were squandered. Now they can venture back into continental competition against Galatasaray in the coming days with a spring in their step.

James Tavernier would net twice, either side of a fine solo effort from the returning Jordan Jones, to ensure there would be no repeat of that hugely frustrating finale at Easter Road. Two late strikes from substitute Cedric Itten capped off a pleasing afternoon for Gerrard.

Given how patchy Rangers have been on the road once again this year, the short trip to Lanarkshire would have been made with a degree of wariness. These have often been bruising encounters and the hosts’ fine form in recent weeks ensured that this certainly didn’t have the look of a straightforward afternoon for Gerrard’s side.

That is exactly what it turned into, though. Three first half goals ensured the points were wrapped up before the break and attentions will now turn to the clash with Galatasaray on the back of an impressive league victory.

Gerrard was able to rest Borna Barisic, who was struggling with a tight groin, and Ianis Hagi in preparation for the Europa League play-off fixture. With the job done, Filip Helander, Ryan Kent, Steven Davis, Alfredo Morelos and Jones came off after the break as Rangers cruised to a comfortable win.

The draws at Livingston and Hibernian are the only stumbles from Rangers so far this term and they never looked like faltering here. There was a purpose about the way they started – Alfredo Morelos was denied by a terrific Trevor Carson stop inside the opening minute – and Rangers were clinical when it mattered.

Too often under Gerrard, Rangers have failed to put games to bed early enough, giving the opposition both time and encouragement in matches that should have been out of sight long before. That certainly wasn’t the case here as Motherwell were taken care of far more easily than would have been anticipated before a ball was kicked in Lanarkshire.

The opener came just 11 minutes in as Tavernier netted the first of two penalties – the seventh and eighth that Motherwell have conceded already this season - and continued his fine scoring streak. The award was an easy one for Bobby Madden to give as Bevis Mugabi was penalised for handball and Tavernier’s strike was perfectly placed as it clipped the inside of Carson’s right-hand post on its way in.

When the captain doubled his tally eight minutes before the break, it was the opposite corner he chose. Liam Grimshaw was the one that conceded the spot-kick on this occasion as Madden spotted another handball infringement.

There were few appeals from Rangers but that didn’t mute the celebrations as Tavernier converted with precision to all-but end the game as a contest. It was a matter of game management from there on for Gerrard’s side.

Even before Tavernier’s second strike, the match was probably beyond Motherwell. Boss Robinson will be frustrated with the concession of two penalties, but the manner of the defending for Jones’ goal will irk him even more.

The pass from Scott Arfield was perfectly weighted and Jones would skip by Ricki Lamie with ease. As he curled a lovely shot into the far corner, the second goal of the afternoon ensured victory for Rangers.

The moods would have contrasted significantly in the respective dressing rooms at the interval and it was no surprise to see Robinson make a double switch. Christopher Long and Barry Maguire entered the action at the restart, while Sherwin Seedorf followed before the hour mark.

Robinson had to do something to try and spark his side into action, but the hope was a forlorn one. Given the way that Well have equipped themselves in recent weeks, there will surely be an inquest into why they were so off it here and a late George Edmundson own goal was hardly a consolation.

Like so much of the game, the final stages would belong to Rangers. The fourth goal – the first that Itten has scored in blue – was a stunning strike from distance that left Carson helpless and the Swiss would double his tally when he poked home at the near post.

The goals weren’t needed to secure the points but they were more than welcomed for Rangers. This was a win that was as emphatic as the scoreline suggests.