Boyd brace as Gers stroll
In-form striker closes in on Larsson's SPL record
Last Updated: 12/12/09 7:13pm
Boyd: At the double
Kris Boyd was Rangers' hero once again as his double helped them cruise to a 3-0 win over St Johnstone.
The in-form front-man needed just 30 seconds to give Gers the lead before he put the Glasgow outfit in cruise control before half-time.
Nacho Novo netted on the rebound just after the break as Rangers closed the gap on Celtic back to two points following their rivals' earlier win at Motherwell.
The early opener set up a routine victory for Rangers but the return of Kirk Broadfoot made it more notable.
The right-back came in for Steven Whittaker for his first appearance since aggravating a foot injury in the Co-operative Insurance Cup final in March.
Boyd was back in the team after a dead leg forced him out of Wednesday's Champions League defeat by Sevilla and he was denied a first-half hat-trick by former Rangers goalkeeper Graeme Smith.
He strayed offside several times when he might have got more chances but the double, which followed his strikes at Falkirk last weekend, leaves him just five behind Henrik Larsson's record SPL haul of 158 goals.
Novo was also recalled while Neil Alexander enjoyed a comfortable afternoon deputising for Allan McGregor, who was ruled out with a hamstring injury.
St Johnstone made five changes after being hit by injuries to striker Collin Samuel and centre-backs Kevin Rutkiewicz and Stuart McCaffrey.
Former Rangers forward Jonatan Johansson, Graham Gartland and Steven Anderson replaced the injury victims, but it was a bad mistake by Gartland deep inside his own half that allowed Boyd to open the scoring.
The Irishman gave the ball straight to DaMarcus Beasley and he fed Boyd to slide the ball into the corner of the net with his left foot from 18 yards.
St Johnstone enjoyed a good spell of possession but Rangers almost put the game beyond them in the eighth minute. Madjid Bougherra stepped out of defence and fed Kenny Miller on the edge of the box, and his volley on the turn was acrobatically pushed wide by Smith.
Beasley's deflected strike looped just over before Alexander pulled off an excellent diving save from the recalled Chris Millar after a half-cleared corner fell for the Saints midfielder 25 yards out.
Broadfoot had a good chance to mark his return with a goal but he headed over from five yards after Novo had nodded Beasley's free-kick back across the face of goal.
However, the Perth side gifted Rangers another goal in the 27th minute. Anderson was short with a passback and Novo intercepted just before Smith got there to bring him down. Dougie McDonald pointed to the spot and Boyd fired the penalty low into the corner.
Miller chested down the second ball from a Beasley free-kick and volleyed not far over from 16 yards before setting up a great chance for Boyd. The Scotland striker beat Gartland and got to the byline to cut the ball back 10 yards for Boyd, whose effort was blocked by Smith's legs.
But Rangers moved three ahead in the 51st minute when Novo finished off a counter-attack. Broadfoot started the move by helping the ball up the line for Beasley, who got away from Danny Grainger and crossed for Miller inside the box. Smith pulled off a great one-handed save from Miller's effort but Novo ran on to stroke the ball home.
Alexander dived low to save Millar's header after sub Kenny Deuchar had flicked on a Kevin Moon cross but Rangers otherwise strolled through the second period without finding the finishing touch.
Novo hit the post from 18 yards following a positive run and Beasley, relishing his rare start, forced a good parry from Smith after cutting inside from the right and unleashing a powerful strike.
Novo fired wide from a tight angle and substitute John Fleck blasted over after being set up by Boyd. Another replacement, Kyle Lafferty, passed up the chance to set up Boyd with a poor pass inside the box before Sasa Papac fired just past the far post after Novo's short corner.