Rangers kicked off their Scottish Premiership title defence in ideal fashion as they beat Livingston 3-0 at Ibrox on Saturday, with Steven Gerrard’s side comfortable despite missing the likes of Alfredo Morelos and Borna Barisic.
Ianis Hagi gave the Gers an early lead against David Martindale’s side as he fired home from Tavernier’s set-piece, before Scott Wright superbly found the corner with a volley to make the points safe.
Fellow substitute Kemar Roofe came off the bench to score a third late on, capitalising on some less than impressive defending by David Martindale’s side to pick up where he left off at the end of last season.
While he didn’t get on the scoresheet on Saturday, the game’s outstanding player was arguably Tavernier, as he played a huge part in the first two goals and was a constant threat going forward.
As per SofaScore, the former Wigan Athletic man earned a superb 8.8 match rating for his performance, which was comfortably the best of any player to feature for either side. Only Steven Davis (101) had more touches than Tavernier (98) at Ibrox, which emphasises just how involved he was in Rangers’ build-up play despite featuring at right-back.
He was also solid from a defensive perspective, as no Livingston player dribbled past him during the game. The visitors’ left-hand side, consisting of James Penrice and Adam Lewis, managed just six passes each during the game, which suggests that Tavernier clearly had the better of them.
Whilst the Rangers captain lost possession 31 times on the day, the most of any player on the pitch, this shows that he is willing to attempt the difficult passes and crosses. When they come off they often lead to a goal, evidenced by his superb goals and assists record during his time at Rangers thus far.
After missing a portion of last season, which led to Nathan Patterson breaking into the first team, there were some who felt the Scottish youngster could challenge Tavernier for the starting spot during 2021/22. However, based on the 29-year-old’s performance today, there won’t be many occasions where Gerrard feels the need to drop his “incredible” captain – in the words of Kenny Dalglish – over the coming months.