Rangers raced clear at the top of the Premiership and into the record books as they racked up nine hours in a row without conceding a goal.
Steven Gerrard ’s men broke a 91-year-old club record by opening with six shut outs on the bounce and the result was never in doubt as Accies played out the final quarter of the match with 10 men after Scott McMann was sent packing.
Alfredo Morelos was back in the fold and on the bench after a few weeks in the cold, with Gerrard unhappy with the front man’s focus amid frenzied speculation about his future.
Not that the controversial Colombian was needed. Neither was Cedric Itten, who missed out with a slight calf strain, as Gers had plenty of firepower at the Foys Stadium – and they weren’t afraid to use it.
Accies rallied in a spirited second half but the damage was done by that stage.
Gaffer Brian Rice pitched in a couple of teenagers, with Reegan Mimnaugh and Andy Winter rewarded for changing the game against Motherwell last week.
But this quickly turned in to a learning experience for the kids.
Rangers were ahead inside 16 minutes when Hagi pounced from close range. The goal was all about the ball from Steven Davis as his whipped cross picked out Kemar Roofe, his header thumped the bar, came down and off keeper Ryan Fulton, where the Romanian playmaker was waiting to strike.
The second – on the half hour – was from similar range. This time it was Tavernier on hand to blast home after Fulton could only shove Kent’s wicked drive on its way to the back post.
It could have been more during an opening onslaught. Roofe blasted wide, Hagi slammed straight at Fulton after a delicious flick from Kent, and the pressure was almost constant.
Ex–Ger Lee Hodson’s deflected dig, which sailed safely in to Jon McLaughlin’s hands after a more encouraging spell of possession was the sole attack from the home side in the first half.
The Light Blues went searching for a third and it nearly arrived when Ryan Jack’s volley looped all the way across the face only to come back off the base of the post.
Barker had lashed wide moments earlier but Accies held firm and put up a fight in the second period. Winter and Mimnaugh got more time on the ball but the home side were struggling to carve out clear cut chances.
Kent was still the dangerman as he fired just wide after a lightning break and then Hagi headed his cross over the bar after Roofe was denied a stone wall penalty with McMann manhandling the striker at the back post.
The Accies man would be punished soon after though when he was sent off for a second yellow card after hauling back Barker.
Roofe should have buried his free header late on but before that Jon McLaughlin made sure of the shut out record when he clawed out Shaun Want’s near post nod.
3 TALKING POINTS
Kent proving his worth
Rangers knocking back £10m for Ryan Kent shows they mean business and the attacker is beginning to justify his top billing at Ibrox.
The Scouser looked the past last term but was constantly reminded about his stats lacking goals and assists. He’s cranked it up a gear this year though and has much more purpose about his game. Kent was at the heart of most Rangers attacks and had a real cutting edge.
His drive on goal set up the second and before that he teed up a few of his teammates with deft balls and delicate touches in key areas.
Tougher tests await but it looks like Kent won’t be getting battered by the stattos this season.
Connor Goldson has been a constant in the record breaking run of clean sheets at the start of the season and he is anothr Ger who has kicked off the campaign in impressive fashion.
Accies frontman Marios Ogkmpoe is a bull up top and more than a handful for most defenders with his sheer physicality.
But the targetman didn’t get much change out of Goldson at all. With no fans in the grounds you can hear the talking on the pitch and it’s clear the defender is among the most vocal.
He seems to be relishing his leading role and his organisational skills are helping Filip Helander alongside him as well.
The Ibrox attack might get the headlines but it’s the backline thas has laid the foundation.
Fountain of Youth Stadium
Brian Rice treated this one like a free punch and he clearly wanted to give some of his young gun a taste of what it takes at this level.
Accies may have struggled to key Gers at bay but teenagers Reegan Mimnaugh and Andy Winter could hold their heads up high.
The pair of them turned the game at Fir Park last week after coming off the bench and they didn’t look out of place again.
Hamilton will have easier days in the league this year but the lessons learned by these two will prove invaluable in the long term.
The Accies production line is continuing to churn out talent every year.