AN ALFREDO Moreles double, which included cashing in on a goalkeeping blunder – helped earn Rangers a 3-1 Ladbrokes Premiership win at Ross County today.
The Colombian scored both first half goals for the Glasgow team, with a second half reply from sub Thomas Mikkelsen giving the Staggies hope before sub Eduardo Herrera sealed the victory late on.
These teams drew all three fixtures in their meetings last year, so they were looking to to go one better this time.
The Staggies were without suspended Kenny van der Weg as they sought to respond to their 2-0 defeat at Motherwell the week before, while striker Alex Schalk started the afternoon as a sub.
Sean Kelly slotted into the back line in place of van der Weg, while Ryan Dow partnered Craig Curran in attack for the hosts.
Defeats by Motherwell either side of a league loss against Aberdeen amounted to a mini slump for the Dingwall team, so they were eager to add to the three points theyr collected in a 2-1 opening day win at Dundee.
Pedro Caixinha's Rangers, who had lost to Hibernian and drawn against Hearts in the past fortnight at Ibrox, arrived in the Highlands determined to kick onwards and find form.
Their sole change was Niko Kranjcar taking the place of Josh Windass in the starting line-up.
Rangers went into attack mode from their kick-off, although Alfredo Morelos fired well wide when played into a nice position to the right edge of the box.
Daniel Candeias then came closer than that when his cross swerved on to the top of the crossbar and over and out for a goalkick with the Gers in the mood from the early stages.
Candeias was a menace on the right flank for the visitors and he drew a puching save from Fox when he guided the ball into the box on 10 minutes.
Michael Gardyne won a free-kick when he was decked by Kranjcar, but the County midfielder's cross was mopped up with ease and follow-up attempts to turn the heat on Rangers were also foiled simply.
On 27 minutes, a timely tackle from Fraser stopped Moreles in his tracks after he was put into the home box by Kranjcar.
At the other end moments later, James Tavernier came to Rangers' aid to prevent Dow going for goal after Tim Chow fed the play into the danger area.
The opener arrived on 31 minutes though after a swift move down the righr once more from Rangers when Tavernier steered the ball into the box and Moreless made no mistake as he finished from close range beyond Scott Fox.
The goal been coming and Rangers had caused most of the trouble on that right side of the pitch.
Their vocal fans were cranking up the volume and County needed answers.
Eight minutes before the interval, County manager Jim McIntyre made a change when he put on Thomas Mikkelsen in place of Jamie Lindsay to add bite in the forward line.
Rangers appealed for a penalty when Moreles was superbly challenged in the box by Naismith. It seemed all good and referee Craig Thomson thought so too, despite the loud calls from the touchline and the pitch from the visitors.
Then came a moment of horror for Staggies keeper Fox as his howler gifted Rangers their second goal on 41 minutes.
With Moreles behind him just as he was about to clear the ball from a Fraser back pass, the Gers man nipped in front of him and tapped the ball into the empty net. He had initially evaded his opponent, but was robbed and punished.
Bruno Alves almost added a third before the break, but thankfully for the Dingwall team his deflected free-kick ended wide of the left post.
Rangers were on the hunt for a killer third as soon as they could in the second half and Candeias flighted a shot over the top just after Mikkelsen felt he'd earned the hosts a spot-kick when he was brought to ground in the box by Cardoso.
However, County gradually grew in belief and confidence and Gardyne fed the ball out to Curran and his cross from the right was headed home by Mikkelsen. It was a fine finish and it was game on.
Sub Davis Keillor-Dunn almost hauled the Highlanders level when he his a free-kick on 62 minutes but keeper Wes Foderingham was equal to it.
Both teams were going for it for the remainder of the game, and it was sub Herrera who pounced in the box to guide the ball past Fox for his side's third of the afternoon.
County return to first-team action on September 9 when they host Partick Thistle, although next weekend their Development team travel to Raith Rovers in the second round of the IRN-BRU Cup.
Ross County: Fox, Kelly, Gardyne, Lindsay (Mikkelsen 37), O'Brien, Curran, Naismith, Davies, Chow (Draper 61), Fraser, Dow (Keillor-Dunn 51). Subs not used: McCarey (GK), Schalk, Tumilty, Routis.
Rangers: Foderingham, Tavernier, Cardoso, Wallace, Jack, Miller (Herrera 61), Dorrans, Kranjcar (Pena 63), Morelos (Rossiter 80), Candeias, Alves. Subs not used: Alnwick (GK), Wilson, Hodson, Gomes.
Referee: Craig Thomson.