Many observers of Scottish Premiership might at one time have had Alfredo Morelos down to reach 100 red cards before he’d rack up a century of goals, but the Colombian’s strike in the 2-1 win at St Mirren on Sunday puts him in a select club of Rangers stars.
His 100th goal, which also sent the reigning champions back to the top of the Premiership, came just a minute after Kemar Roofe had levelled matters from the penalty spot following a slow start for Steven Gerrard’s side at the same SMISA Stadium where they were dumped out of last season’s Betfred Cup.
But this is hardly the first time Morelos has had a big say for the Gers. Having cost them only £1 million back in the summer of 2017, the former HJK front man has been the key player in front of goal during their renaissance as a title challenger. When he arrived in Glasgow, Rangers were only 12 months removed from the end of their torturous trip back through the leagues after liquidation and reformation.
What Morelos has brought in his four years, and particularly in the last three since Gerrard’s appointment as manager, is an ever-present threat in the opposition box. His Rangers debut came in the first leg of the now-infamous Europa League first qualifying round exit to Progres Niederkorn. The fall-out from that must have left him wondering what he let himself in for.
After 18 goals in his opening campaign he became even more prolific. He netted a hat-trick against Kilmarnock in the Betfred Cup amidst a goal glut early in 2018-19, with a brace in the Europa League against Rapid Vienna making for one of those great European nights at Ibrox. It felt almost like he scored every week during that season, bagging four in the Scottish Cup trouncing of Killie among his 30 goals.
But, for every dazzling performance in front of the net there was a controversial one which saw him in hot water. During that first season under Gerrard he was sent off five times, three of them against Aberdeen – including once after netting twice in a 4-2 win at Pittodrie. He was also dismissed twice in consecutive seasons away to Celtic as the Old Firm rivals targeted his short fuse as a weakness in Rangers’ set-up.
It only worked to an extent though, as Morelos would net 29 times in the curtailed 2019-20 season and then 17 more as Rangers finally broke their Premiership title duck last time around. Not since the 6-0 Europa League qualifying win over St Joseph’s in July 2019 has he netted more than twice in a game, yet he just keeps tacking them on. The ones and twos just keep on coming.
His 100 Rangers goals have come in 199 matches in all competitions, albeit he could have played nearer 250 but for his various suspensions down the years. But Alfredo Morelos has now not been sent off in almost two years, and his contribution to the cause has become about far more than just goals in a champion team. At just 25 years of age, he might have 100 more in him yet.