OXFORD United endured a tough afternoon as their pre-season began against a sharp Rangers side at Ibrox.

The Scottish hosts were preparing for a Europa League tie on Tuesday and they looked like a team who had already got two warm-up games under their belts.

Daniel Candeias fired them in front as United were caught napping from their own corner, while Greg Stewart doubled the lead.

Simon Eastwood made two big saves to keep the score down to 2-0 at the break, but Rangers kept pressing.

Lewis Mayo added a third early in the second half, before fellow substitutes Sheyi Ojo and Jermain Defoe completed the scoring in front of more than 22,000.

The U’s, who finished with a host of teenagers on the pitch, continue pre-season with successive games against Oxford City, Thame United and Brackley Town starting on Tuesday night.

United’s two senior summer signings – Alex Rodriguez Gorrin and Tariqe Fosu – came into the starting line-up for their debuts, while Gavin Whyte led the line.

Backed by an impressive turnout of about 1,000 crammed into one corner at Ibrox, the visitors did well early on.

Rob Hall flashed a shot into the side netting after Sam Long’s cross was only half-cleared, while it took a last-ditch tackle to prevent Whyte cutting the ball back for a James Henry tap-in.

Rangers though showed a cutting edge which proved tough to live with at times.

They were ahead as United were caught out from their own corner on 16 minutes, Candeias racing clear to finish from Stewart’s pass.

Henry had a low shot saved by Jak Alnwick as the visitors threatened a quick equaliser, but Rangers went on to assert their dominance.

Joe Aribo should have doubled the lead on 26 minutes, but at the end of an incisive move he fluffed his lines.

A second goal was on the cards, though, and arrived just after the half-hour mark. Stewart found space in behind and with the U’s backline expecting a cross, he fired a left-footed shot into the far corner.

The visitors had Eastwood to thank for keeping the score down to 2-0 at the break.

Andrew Halliday was denied by a terrific save from the goalkeeper, who a minute later got the faintest of touches on a 25-yard rocket from Nikola Katic which smacked into the crossbar.

Eastwood excelled again eight minutes after the restart, but still could not stop a third goal.

While Mayo’s downward header was brilliant kept out, the substitute blocked Josh Ruffels’s clearance to force the ball over the line.

United’s task got even tougher as the two sides brought on fresh legs.

While the visitors gave opportunities to a host of their under 23 players, former England striker Defoe was among the Rangers substitutes.

Ojo, on loan from Liverpool, showed fresh legs to shrug off Sam Long’s challenge and curl a fourth goal in off the post 20 minutes from time.

Jamie Hanson, 23, ended up as United’s oldest player in the latter stages, but they could not prevent Defoe adding a fifth goal at the end of a slick one-touch move in the final minute.

Rangers (4-3-3): Alnwick (Foderingham HT), Polster (Tavernier 60), Katic (McPake HT), Edmundson (Mayo HT), Halliday (Barisic 60), Docherty (Jack 60), Kamara (Goldson HT), Aribo (Jones 60), Candeias (Ojo 60), Stewart (Defoe 60), Hastie (Davis HT).

Unused subs: Barjonas.

Oxford Utd 1st half (4-2-3-1): Eastwood (Stevens 60), Long (Jones 79), Dickie (Allardyce 79), Mousinho (Hanson HT), Ruffels, (Berkoe 79), Brannagan (McCreadie 79), Rodriguez Gorrin (James 79), Hall (Sykes HT), Henry (Napa HT), Fosu (Lofthouse 60), Whyte (Lopes 60).

Unused subs: Heap.

Referee: Nick Walsh (Scotland).

Attendance: 22,156 (visitors not given).