Rangers “can’t keep relying on Alfredo Morelos”, says Steven Gerrard after watching his side miss the chance to go third in the Scottish Premiership.Morelos put the Ibrox side in front against Kilmarnock but Greg Stewart’s strike gave the visitors a point.
Jamie MacDonald denied Ryan Kent, Morelos, Andy Halliday and Connor Goldson as Rangers pressed.
“He’s the only one at the moment who really looks a goal threat for us,” Gerrard said of Morelos on RangersTV.
“Kilmarnock have seen the Spartak Moscow performance [last week’s 0-0 draw] and they’ve seen Aberdeen and seen them have success [in Sunday’s League Cup semi-final] when they sit in and are disciplined and they play that block.
“The onus is on us to go and break that down and for someone to step forward to create something. We can’t keep relying on Alfredo.”
Rangers dropped points at home for the first time this season, but moved up to fourth as Steve Clarke’s Kilmarnock slipped below Celtic to third having played a game more.
And the result also means Gerrard’s domestic opening to the season continues to match that of predecessor Pedro Caixinha, who was sacked at Ibrox this time last year after dropping 12 points in 10 games and losing a League Cup semi-final.
MacDonald frustrates Rangers
Where Gerrard has excelled this season has been at Ibrox and in Europe, with his side having won their opening four home Premiership matches and remained unbeaten in the Europa League.
The manager dropped goalkeeper Allan McGregor to the bench following Sunday’s Hampden defeat and reinstated last season’s first choice Wes Foderingham.
Rangers’ intent was clear with Lassana Coulibaly and Halliday having efforts blocked before Morelos’s deflected opener, which came after build-up work by Scott Arfield and Kent.
Kent, Goldson and James Tavernier threatened after Stewart’s leveller, with captain Tavernier’s free-kick hitting the bar just before the break, and Morelos and Halliday drew saves from MacDonald as the hosts tried to maintain their momentum into the second period.
But all that continued was Rangers’ frustration. Kent had one effort deflected wide and another saved. Goldson was denied by MacDonald in the interim and substitute Kyle Lafferty fired off target before Morelos was booked for simulation in the closing stages.
Clarke’s Kilmarnock battle back again
Almost a year ago to the day, Kilmarnock had arrived at Ibrox for Clarke’s first match in charge and battled back to claim a 1-1 draw – a result that brought Caixinha’s Rangers tenure to an end.
On this occasion, Kilmarnock arrived in Glasgow with a recent record of having lost the first goal in their past six games but had won four and drawn one of the previous five.
Clarke had earlier this month warned his team about their tendency to fall behind in games but they showed few signs of folding after Rangers’ ninth-minute opener, the lead lasting just six minutes.
Stewart was available to play, with Kilmarnock contesting a two-match ban following an off the ball incident with Hamilton’s Scott Martin on Saturday, and the forward capitalised after Joe Worrall and Joe Flanagan failed to clear their lines.
The lone frontman found himself free in the box and curled a shot beyond Foderingham.
And the visitors had their chances to go in front with Jordan Jones’s effort blocked and Stephen O’Donnell too high with his.
Stewart was also prominent in the closing stages, testing Foderingham and sending another effort off target.
‘I expected better’ – reaction
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard: “I can sit here and protect them all night and take the blame. If that’s what they want then I will. But they are Rangers players. They are the ones who have to go out and deliver and tonight they haven’t.
“We will all take the blame together but they have to take responsibility at some point. It is a concern that it has happened a few times now. I expected a better reaction. I think the fans deserved a better reaction and better performance and they never delivered it.”
Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke: “I believe we’re the first team in the league to come here and stop Rangers getting all three points, so we can be pleased with that.
“But, we’re also a little bit disappointed because we also had opportunities, especially in the second half when the game opened up a little bit. We could have scored because Greg Stewart got away at the start of injury time and with a little bit of luck we might have nicked another goal. With a little bit more care and attention, we might have had all three points.”