Just over a week after leading Nigeria to a 2-0 victory over Liberia’s Lone Star at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, Balogun and Aribo combined again to help the champions seal a fine away win
Nigerian playmaker Joe Aribo and defender Leon Balogun played every minute at the McDiarmid Park to guide Rangers to a come-from-behind 2-1 win over St Johnstone.
2013 Africa Cup of Nations defender Efe Ambrose, who joined the Saints a few days ago, did not make it off the bench for the home side.
But Callum Davidson’s men were still a tough nut to crack for the Steven Gerrard-tutored reigning champions.
A cagey first half witnessed very few highlights, two of which involved the Nigerian internationals.
In the 15th-minute, Balogun managed to get his head to Rangers’ first corner of the afternoon swung in by Tavernier, but he couldn’t keep his effort down.
Three minutes later, Aribo quick-stepped his way along the 18-yard line trying to get a shot away, but the Saints did well to crowd him out as he earned a corner.
But the game came alive after the break, and Aribo showed a bit of guile to pick out Roofe in the box to the left of Saints’ goal, but the new Jamaica international lost out to the home side’s defence.
St Johnstone broke the deadlock shortly after, as Balogun’s centre-back partner Helander failed to deal with a hopeful ball forward, allowing former Gers boy Michael O’Halloran to steal in and finish well from around 15 yards.
Rangers mustered the perfect response five minutes later, though, as Ryan Kent won a penalty which Kemar Roofe dispatched with aplomb.
Aribo’s trickery created a shooting chance for Kent on the bench, but the forward missed the target.
Moments after that, Balogun was saved an embarrassment. The Super Eagles defender made a mess of clearing a Kane cross, but a late-arriving Crawford could only balloon over from eight yards under pressure from Tavernier.
And ten minutes from time, James Tavernier completed the come back for the champions, with a goal of the week contender.
There doesn’t look to be too much danger for St Johnstone as Tavernier picked up the loose ball on the edge of the penalty area. However, he unleashed an unbelievable strike, and the ball dipped over Clark and into the top corner.
The win sends Gerrard’s men top of the Scottish league table on 12 points after five matches.