Steven Gerrard saw his Rangers side break a 114-year shut-out record as they brushed aside Dundee United to stay top of the Scottish Premiership.
However, there was real disquiet for the Ibrox manager at the sight of five leading players having to be removed from the field of play.
Alfredo Morelos, an early substitute for hamstring injury victim Brandon Barker and the subject of a £16million plus bid from Lille earlier in the summer, was taken off on a stretcher on 55 minutes after visiting centre-back Ryan Edwards had appeared to leave his studs in following a challenge.
Rangers continued their strong start to the season with a 3-0 victory over Dundee United
Ryan Jack was an early casualty for Rangers as he had to withdraw through injury on 11 minutes
Leon Balogun also limped out of the warm-up, Ryan Jack went off after 11 minutes and Borna Barisic was replaced in the second period ahead of the Glasgow outfit’s Europa League second qualifying round trip to Gibraltar to face Lincoln Red Imps on Thursday.
Rangers dominated the game and became the first side to open a Scottish season with seven straight clean sheets, beating a landmark established by arch-rivals Celtic back in 1906, thanks, in no small part, to an 86th- minute effort from visiting midfielder Ian Harkes coming back off the crossbar and keeper Jon McLaughlin denying Lawrence Shankland in the dying seconds.
However, their star performer was to be found at the other end of the field in Ryan Kent, who opened the scoring ahead of further efforts from captain James Tavernier, Kemar Roofe and Morelos’ replacement Scott Arfield.
Kent has been Rangers’ outstanding contributor so far this season. If a rejected £10million offer from Leeds United and reports of continued interest have been unsettling in any way, there is certainly no sign of any negative effect.
Steven Gerrard will have been pleased by what he saw but concerned by several injuries
If anything, it seems to have restored the swagger and self-belief that appeared to be on the wane over the second period of last season as the Ibrox side’s domestic campaign turned to dust.
His goal was an example of the many of things he is good on his game. A mercilessly executed one-two with Ianis Hagi from the left allowed him to use his pace to move into a pocket of space in the area.
United centre-back Ryan Edwards did remain an impediment to progress, but what could only be described as a blinding combination of shimmies and step-overs threw the former Plymouth and Blackpool defender off-balance and opened up a shot at goal.
Ryan Kent opened the scoring just minutes later after a neat one-two with Ianis Hagi
Kent’s low effort was perfectly placed and whizzed beyond the dive of Benjamin Siegrist and into the net. Edwards looked shellshocked, the victim of a mugging.
Glasgow, in fairness, hasn’t seen footwork as fast since Fred Astaire settled his bill and checked out of the Central Hotel all those years ago.
Within a minute, substitute Glen Kamara had headed wide from a Borna Barisic cross and, after Hagi and Filip Helander had put efforts wide, the home side scored from another opportunity created on that left.
Luke Bolton, the youngster on loan at United from Manchester City, has clear attributes in terms of going forward. However, the defensive side of his game is something that maybe ought to be worked on in the weeks and months ahead.
Barisic is a major weapon for Rangers given the overall quality of his delivery. Yet, he was afforded so much time to weigh up his options from the flank before firing a dangerous low cross into the heart of the area on 39 minutes .
The home side suffered their second injury just moments later through Brandon Barker
Barker’s replacement Alfredo Morelos was then himself stretchered off in the second half
It looked like Roofe might nip in first to score. However, the ball just evaded his outstretched toe. Thankfully for Rangers, no one in the visiting defence was either willing or able to take control of the situation and Tavernier popped up at the back post to convert.
What was noticeable, though, is that Rangers had a number of players in advanced positions, almost queueing up to score.
United manager Micky Mellon is vocal on the touchline. He was demanding his side be aggressive in defence when Rangers ventured into their territory. To no avail.
United did make some inroads upfield during the opening period without looking terribly dangerous. Ian Harkes came in off the left and scuffed a shot from distance wide before Calum Butcher connected with a header.
However, they just have to be a little more switched-on than this to stay competitive at venues such as Ibrox. Right at the start of the second half, Butcher was woefully short with an ambitious pass towards Jamie Robson and Tavernier was allowed to gallop into space.
The ball was moved through Kent to Roofe and Siegrist did well to save the striker’s shot. Moments later, the Swiss keeper had to save again from Barisic, who put a second effort wide from the rebound.
Kent was next to miss a golden opportunity. In their first meaningful piece of link-up play since the Colombian entered the fray, Roofe played in Morelos and his low ball to the back post should have been buried by the former Liverpool man just a couple of yards out.
However, it would be the striker’s last act of note. That tackle from Edwards, not deemed worthy of even a yellow from referee Kevin Clancy, ended his afternoon. Quite when he will be available for action – or maybe even transfer – remains at the discretion of the medics.
Despite the shock of Morelos’ departure, Rangers kept creating.
Kemar Roofe slid in on 69 minutes to put the game beyond doubt for in-form Rangers
Substitute Scott Arfield capped off a bright performance with Rangers’ fourth goal
Siegrist had to be on his toes to deny Hagi and then substitute Calvin Bassey, on for Barisic, with two good saves from crisp efforts.
However, further goals were inevitable and Roofe got in on the act midway through the second period when converting a cross-cum-shot from Arfield.
The former Burnley midfielder looked really bright after coming on for Morelos and deserved his goal at the death, scoring from an assist from Hagi.