THE three goals and the three points were what really mattered for Steven Gerrard on Saturday. It wasn’t pretty, at times, but it was effective from Rangers.

This game was closer on the park than the scoreboard but the margin wasn’t that great of a concern. At the start of a run that will define their season, it was win at all costs for the Light Blues as the first one was successfully ticked off.

Having gone into the international break on the back of a 7-1 win over Motherwell, Gerrard would have demanded that his side picked up where they left off against Livingston.

In terms of the result, they did just that. This wasn’t a performance that was as sparkling or as clinical but the win was just as welcome.

The fact that Rangers didn’t reach their peak was partly down to their own efforts but Livingston deserve credit for the role they played in a competitive encounter.

Nobody at Ibrox would have been surprised to see Gary Holt’s side be as physical or as well organised as they were but there was a creativity to compliment their ruggedness on occasions.

The narrow advantage that Rangers had at the break, courtesy of a glancing header from Daniel Candeias as he met a Glenn Middleton corner six yards out, was deserved.

But Livingston had a handful of chances themselves, and while Allan McGregor may not have been tested regularly, he was still involved more often than many would have expected him to be.

Each opportunity gave boss Holt hope that his side could upset Rangers for the second time this term but every one that was spurned was ultimately a blow to their hopes of following up their 1-0 win at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

The second goal from Alfredo Morelos won the game for Rangers, while Scott Arfield’s third in two games added a shine to the scoreline for the hosts. It was job done.

Rangers were outfought in their first meeting with Livi this term but they won here by outplaying their visitors when it mattered most. In the final third, their quality shone through.

The introduction of Morelos proved crucial and his impressive half hour performance highlighted just how integral he is to Gerrard’s side. Rangers would still have won he had stayed on the bench, but they were far more effective with him on the park.

“I am very pleased with the players, I think it is a very important win for us,” Gerrard said.

“At times it didn’t look great on the eye, I understand that. The fans come here and expect us to play with style and rhythm and great attacking football.

“I understand that. But at times teams are not going to let us do that, teams are going to come here and try and spoil.

“They are going to try and make the game physical, they are going to go man for man in midfield, they are going to throw themselves over to try and get foils and set pieces.

“They are going to try and spoil the game and I think at times Livingston succeeded in spoiling the game.

“But what we did is we stood strong, we were brave, we stood up and eventually we get our rewards towards the end of the game because we have got a top, top centre-forward that came on and provided that spark when needed.”

The booking that Morelos picked up in the closing stages will rule him out of the trip to Dens Park in a fortnight but, crucially, he will be in the side when Rangers head to Tynecastle on Sunday.

They will do so having moved above Hearts in the standings following their surprise defeat to St Mirren and a second victory of the season over the Jambos would be hugely significant for Gerrard and his players.

With Celtic in Betfred Cup action against Aberdeen, Rangers have an opportunity to move top of the Premiership standings. Gerrard won’t allow his focus to be shifted from the main task, though.

“I don’t worry about Hearts’ result or anybody else’s result right now,” he said. “[Saturday] was about getting three important points, like I mentioned [on Friday].

“We go to Hearts next week and it will be a very difficult game. Tynecastle will be bouncing, it is very close to the pitch.

“I know they were beaten [on Saturday] so I am sure they will want to bounce back against Rangers. There is no better team no bounce back against.

“It was a big three points for us. Celtic asked us a question and we went and answered it.”

There will be many more questions asked of Rangers in the coming weeks as they look to build some serious momentum through a run of fixtures that will shape their ambitions for the second half of the season.

The visit of Livingston may not have been their toughest assignment of the campaign to date but it was another satisfying afternoon for Gerrard. His side competed in the physical battle and then ensured their superior quality won them the game.

Morelos was integral to that after he stepped off the bench to replace Kyle Lafferty but those behind him in the spine of the side were equally as important as Ryan Jack took home the Man of the Match champagne and Gareth McAuley earned glowing praise from his manager.

Their performances were more steady than swashbuckling, solid rather than stylish but, like Rangers as a collective, it was just what was required at Ibrox.

In overcoming St Mirren, Motherwell and now Livingston this month, Rangers have shown different sides to their game and their character. Most importantly, they have proven they can find a way to win.

And that is all that Gerrard will expect from his players against Hearts as Rangers look to take top spot in the Premiership and another small step in the right direction.