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Criticism acting as a spur for league leaders Rangers

Morton 0-4 Rangers

By Gavin McCafferty

Rangers manager Mark Warburton revealed his players were fired up by criticism of their League Cup display as they surged to a 4-0 victory over Morton.

Martyn Waghorn netted a hat-trick and James Tavernier notched his eighth goal of the season as the Gers moved nine points clear at the top of the Ladbrokes Championship.

The teams had come into the game on contrasting cup fortunes after Rangers fell to a 3-1 home defeat by St Johnstone while Morton knocked out Motherwell after extra-time.

The visiting players had clearly been upset by some of the analysis of their Ibrox defeat, a fact also not lost on Morton boss Jim Duffy, who saw his side go three down inside 34 minutes.

Warburton said: "They were riled by some of the comments and they were ready for it.

"There was no doubt we were going to come out and start fast and I'm sure Jim prepared his team accordingly, but we were very good in that first half hour.

"We were a little bit sloppy at times in terms of possession and geography but overall it was a very pleasing result."

Expanding on the theme of the media criticism, Warburton said: "I thought it was a little disrespectful. They have now played 13 games and won 12.

"Everyone loses a game of football and we will learn from it, but I just thought some of the comments were over the top after losing one game."

Waghorn took his tally for the season to 14, half of them penalties.

The 25-year-old former Sunderland, Leicester and Wigan striker opened the scoring from the spot in the 12th minute after Ross Forbes tripped Nathan Oduwa, and then added two clinical finishes.

"Martyn will get better and better," Warburton said.

"He just needed to play football and get a run of games. He had too many substitutions and 10 minutes here and there.

"The more he plays, he will go from strength to strength. Everyone says that he's not a prolific goalscorer but he is doing all right so far."

Morton boss Duffy admitted Rangers were on a different level despite his side creating some decent chances.

"Rangers were terrific," Duffy said.

"We gave them the first goal which was disappointing. They had six penalties already this season so we told them, 'Don't dive in in the box'. And we dive in and give away a penalty.

"That was frustrating because it could have been avoided, but after Rangers got the opening goal they really moved the ball quickly and you could see the criticism they had from midweek really fired them up.

"They were relentless for the rest of the first-half and we just had to stay in there. My players worked hard and were as organised as we could be but we came up against a side whose movement and imagination was outstanding."

MORTON: Gaston, Kilday, O'Ware, Lamie, Pepper, Barr (Sabajo 75), Miller,Forbes (McCluskey 67), Tidser, Johnstone, Samuel (MacDonald 67).

Subs Not Used: McKee, Scullion, Russell, Adam.

Booked: Forbes,O'Ware.

Rangers: Foderingham, Tavernier, Kiernan, Danny Wilson, Wallace, Zelalem (Shiels 62), Halliday, Holt (Miller 62), McKay (Law 76), Waghorn, Oduwa.

Subs Not Used: Ball, Clark, Aird, Kelly.

Goals: Waghorn 12 pen, 22, 81, Tavernier 34.

Attendance: 7,392

Referee: William Collum (Scotland).

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