miércoles, 20 de abril de 2011

Dundee United - Rangers 0-4.

 
On an evening when Rangers might have scored as many goals as Dundee United had players left on the field, the defending champions produced a booming win that guarantees they will be in pole position against Celtic for Sunday’s final Old Firm league derby of the season at Ibrox. While United were being reduced to eight men by the dismissals of Michael Kovacevic, Sean Dillon and Morgaro Gomis, Steven Whittaker took three penalty kicks and scored two, but was spared any embarrassment by contributions from Nikica Jelavic and Kyle Lafferty as Rangers ate into Celtic’s advantage in goal difference. Rangers’ urgency was exemplified by Steven Davis, who made himself available and demanded the ball with the energy of a dervish.
He and his colleagues threatened to overrun United in the middle of the park but in the danger areas Rangers were less effective, although Steven Naismith was a touch unlucky to be cautioned for handling when he had the ball in the net after quarter of an hour.
Undaunted, Naismith won Rangers the penalty kick from which they took the lead midway through the half. Again he had made a forcing run into the box but on this occasion he was body checked by Kovacevic for a clear penalty kick.
The Swiss defender, though, vehemently disputed that he had deprived Naismith of a clear goal scoring opportunity, on the grounds that the Rangers player did not have the ball under control when he was taken down, but it was the last plea of a doomed man and Kovacevic trundled off to the dressing room.
It fell to Whittaker to convert the award, a task he accomplished with brio, selling Dusan Pernis a dummy that sent the goalkeeper the wrong way as the ball was drilled into the corner away from his dive.
He was almost beaten again four minutes later and would have been helpless had Jelavic got a close range opportunist attempt on target when he applied a boot to an off-target drive from Naismith but the ball squirmed wide of the post. Changes were afoot, meanwhile, with United having sent on Barry Douglas for David Robertson – a defender for a midfield man – to fill the gap left by Kovacevic’s departure.
For their part, Rangers switched to a more aggressive deployment by withdrawing Kyle Hutton – the youngster having collected a booking for a foul on Danny Swanson – to allow El-Hadji Diouf the opportunity to cause additional trouble for the home defenders.
The Senegalese forward promptly produced a tantalising cross which just eluded Jelavic but fell for Kykle Lafferty to volley narrowly over with his right foot and from a corner in first half injury time Madjid Bougerra met Diouf’s delivery with a powerful header just off the mark.
Rangers had looked unsure of how exactly to take advantage of their extra man but that problem was addressed at the interval and the United defence began to be swamped by waves of blue jerseys.
Nevertheless, they were hard done by when they conceded another penalty kick and lost another defender in the process. Dillon was judged by Mr Collum to have toppled Jelavic inside the box – TV replays confirmed the suspicion that the offence was just outside – and was shown the red card before Whittaker repeated his earlier accomplishment from the spot.
The Rangers utility man was now on a hat-trick and, to a double dose of astonishment, he got his chance when Gomis barged Diouf off the ball in the box and was sent off, but this time Whittaker booted wildly over. Lafferty, though, reminded him how it should be done by shooting low and fiercely between Pernis and his left hand post six minutes from time. 


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