RANGERS will move to the top of the cinch Premiership table if they defeat Aberdeen by three goals at Ibrox on Tuesday evening after cutting Celtic’s lead to three points with a 3-0 win over Livingston this afternoon.

Brendan Rodgers’ men being held to a 1-1 draw by managerless opponents at Pittodrie in the early game added a definite edge to the atmosphere in Govan before kick-off.

The home supporters in the 49,688-strong crowd sensed the encounter with the bottom-placed team in the top flight would be significant in the Scottish title race.

Philippe Clement’s side duly produced the triumph they longed for against David Martindale’s team thanks to first-half goals from Fabio Silva and Rabbi Matondo and a second-half strike from Todd Cantwell.

If they do win in midweek and move into first place then their stay there may be short-lived as their city rivals take on Hibernian at Easter Road the following evening.

However, they have a game in hand against Ross County at Ibrox to play and momentum behind them. They improved their goal difference with this one-sided result and are now just two behind the defending champions.

Here are five talking points from the match.  

Silva off the mark

It has taken the Portuguese striker a little time to find his feet in Scotland since joining on loan from Wolves last month. But the £35m forward has worked hard in all of his appearances to date and he finally opened his account this afternoon. He did well to volley home after Connor Goldson had nodded a Borna Barisic corner to him in the opposition six yard box.

The 21-year-old did not play a great deal of football down south in the first half of the season. But he looks fitter and sharper than he was when he first arrived. Getting on target for the first time since August will do wonders for his confidence. He was unlucky not to bury a spectacular effort before being replaced by Cyriel Dessers.  

Balogun blow

Rangers centre half Leon Balogun received several minutes of medical treatment as he lay on the Ibrox turf in the first half following a clash of heads with Livingston midfielder Shaun Donnellan.

The Nigerian internationalist eventually got back to his feet. He was, however, unable to continue. He came off and John Souttar took his place alongside Goldson in the heart of the hosts’ backline.

Souttar is an experienced and accomplished defender who has performed consistently well for the Glasgow outfit since joining them from Hearts two summers ago. He had little difficult dealing with  Joel Nouble and then Bruce Anderson after he came on today.

Still, Clement will be hoping that Balogun is not sidelined for too long. The former Werder Bremen, Fortuna Dusseldorf and Mainz 05 man has been one of his most consistent performers since he arrived in this country in October. He is, too, still without Ben Davies and a lot of big games are coming up.

Borna’s back

The Croatian left back returned to the Rangers starting line-up for the first time since the league win over Aberdeen at Ibrox way back on December 17 and helped to set up the opener.

But will the 31-year-old, who spent a spell on the sidelines with a muscle strain before the winter break, retain his place going forward?

Ridvan Yilmaz enjoyed arguably his best spell of form since he moved to Scotland back in 2022 when he was out and is still very much part of the squad after his much mooted move away failed to materialise during the January transfer window.  

The Turkish internationalist came on for Barisic during a triple substitution on the hour mark and performed brightly. He struck the crossbar with a long-range attempt in the closing stages. He is likely to be preferred against Aberdeen.

Cortes debut

New Rangers signing Mohamed Diomande was given a warm reception when he was paraded on the pitch before the game got underway. But the £4.5m Ivorian midfielder has not played competitively since the end of November and is not ready to don a light blue jersey just yet.

However, Oscar Cortes, the Colombian winger who joined from Lens on deadline day, came on in the second half and took over from Matondo. He was unable to create any opportunities or get in on the goals. It was, though, easy to see why Clement was so pleased to land him. Making an early debut will help him to settle.

Lamentable Livingston

There are still another few months of the 2023/24 campaign to go and 14 more games to be played. But it looks, even at this early stage, as if the West Lothian outfit’s six year stay in the Premiership will come to an end in May. They failed to register a single shot on target during this 90 minutes and were fortunate not to lose by far more.

Livingston had Shamal George to thank for keeping them on level terms during the opening 40 minutes. The English goalkeeper produced excellent saves from Ryan Jack, James Tavernier and Matondo before he was finally beaten by Silva. His opposite number Jack Butland had, in stark contrast, next to nothing to do.

Martindale brought in four players during the window and David Carson and Donnellan were involved today. He needs his new boys to perform and his team to improve considerably if they are to survive.