RANGERS were depleted but they remain undefeated. Soon, Steven Gerrard’s side will be champions after taking another step towards the Premiership title.

Their Europa League win over Royal Antwerp came at a cost as Gerrard was denied the services of James Tavernier and Kemar Roofe. This was another victory that had a black mark next to it as Ryan Jack was forced off midway through the first half.

Time will tell when all three will be back and if they will be on the park for Rangers’ crowning moment. What is far more certain is that the silverware is heading to Ibrox.

First half goals from Ianis Hagi and Ryan Kent would deflate Dundee United. After the break, Joe Aribo and Alfredo Morelos ensured a late Marc McNulty effort was a mere consolation for United.

The score line makes this look like a completely comfortable and worry-free afternoon for Gerrard. That wasn’t quite the case, though, and there was plenty other than Jack’s injury – the midfielder walking straight up the tunnel after being replaced by Glen Kamara – that would have been on Gerrard’s mind in stages of an entertaining affair.

After the physical and mental exertions of Thursday night, a three-goal win on Premiership duty cannot be sniffed at. This is now 15 successive home wins this term and Gerrard’s side have dropped just two points in the matches after their European encounters.

The first half an hour was all about the front three. The movement was intelligent, the link-up was neat and a goal should have been their reward.

Unfortunately for Gerrard, it was the United forward line that were showcasing their talents at Ibrox. As Rangers struggled to find their rhythm, the visitors quickly settled into theirs.

Two goals in two minutes would ultimately put Rangers in control and finally spark them into life but United were hard done by at the interval. So many sides have come here and looked to stifle Rangers this term, but Micky Mellon deserves credit for allowing the Arabs to have a go and to ask questions of Rangers.

A terrific save from Allan McGregor as he denied Lawrence Shankland after just eight minutes gave United encouragement. The combination from Louis Appere and Liam Smith was neat and a sign of things to come as the visitors looked to exploit a defensive line that had Leon Balogun filling in for Tavernier at right back.

The second chance of the afternoon was created by Shankland and Nicky Clark and it was Appere who was denied on this occasion as McGregor showed his awareness to get out and smother the danger on the edge of the box. Once again, Rangers didn’t react well enough. An Appere cross from the right should have been converted and the youngster later tested McGregor with a fine effort from distance that was smartly saved.

At the other end of the park, Rangers hadn’t shown any fluency. The returning Morelos was starved of service, while Hagi and Kent couldn’t hurt United. That would soon change but it was Aribo that was the instigator for the turnaround.

He showed typically neat footwork to evade Jeando Fuchs before being denied by Benjamin Siegrist as the United keeper was finally forced into action and saved well low to his left. From the resulting corner, Morelos couldn’t convert at the front post after more neat play from Aribo as the Nigerian became increasing influential.

There was a touch of bad fortune about both goals from United’s perspective, but these are the moments that Rangers have needed at times this term. They are the ones that prove their mark of champions as difficult spells are overcome and emphatically put behind them.

The first arrived via the boot of Hagi as he showed real awareness to divert an Aribo effort beyond Siegrist after the midfielder had twisted and turned on the edge of the area and tried his luck.

The second was from a deflection off Ryan Edwards. A Borna Barisic cross had been nodded down by Balogun and Kent’s strike was directed away from the helpless Siegrist as United suddenly found themselves two goals down.

Within minutes of the restart, the deficit was three and the game was done. Unsurprisingly, it was Aribo that provided the moment of magic as he rifled a wonderful strike beyond Siegrist from the edge of the area.

Gerrard may have had fewer options than he would have liked given the injuries to key men and the self-inflicted wounds of their Covid rule-breakers, but he was still able to bring quality off the bench.

Scott Wright and Scott Arfield entered the action just before Morelos made it 4-0 as Siegrist cannoned a clearance off him and the ball rebounded into the net. And Jermain Defoe and Jack Simpson were introduced as Barisic waited to take a penalty after Fuchs had fouled Morelos.

The Croatian was two from two on Thursday night, but he went to the same side on this occasion and Siegrist guessed correctly. It was an impressive save but a real frustration for Rangers as they missed the chance to make it 5-0 and when the fifth goal came it was McNulty that scored it as he beat McGregor from the edge of the area.

There was concern for Balogun when he had to receive treatment on a head knock following a challenge from Jamie Robson. Thankfully for Gerrard, his make-shift full-back was able to see the game out.

That was the case for Rangers, too. The true cost of this week will soon become clear on the injury front but another two wins are just what the doctor ordered at Ibrox.