Defiant Rangers show steel
Published 04/05/2012 | 00:00
Rangers 5 Dundee United 0: Rangers secured second place in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League in style last night with a commanding win over Dundee United.
Sone Aluko grabbed a double and Steven Whittaker, Jamie Ness and Alejandro Bedoya claimed a goal apiece as the Glasgow giants ended any hope of Motherwell beating them to the runners-up spot.
However, with United now unable to catch the Steelmen in third place, the result at Ibrox also hands Motherwell a crack at the Champions League qualifiers next season, with administration-hit Rangers ineligible for a UEFA licence.
Rangers made two changes from the side who lost to Celtic in Sunday's Old Firm derby with Salim Kerkar and Ness drafted into the starting line-up, after Andy Little was ruled out and Lee McCulloch only played the last 10 minutes from the bench.
Ibrox legend Sandy Jardine addressed the crowd before kick-off, telling them: “Now is not the time for division. Now is not the time for protest and disruption. It's time to get behind both bidders.”
His comments came amid rumours of a protest at the game against American bidder Bill Miller, while rival bidder Brian Kennedy was believed to be attending the match.
Once the action was under way, Rangers were ahead after just six minutes when Rhys McCabe teed
up the shot for Whittaker and he produced a lovely finish to slot past Dusan Pernis and into the bottom corner.
United also looked dangerous and Allan McGregor was called into action to tip a Gary Mackay-Steven effort just over the crossbar at full-stretch.
Rangers doubled their lead after 16 minutes when Garry Kenneth lost possession to Kerkar and he played the ball to Aluko, who did well to race past the United defence before firing home.
Aluko was celebrating again four minutes later when he burst into the box again and rifled low into the back of the net, leaving Pernis with no chance.
Rangers were hungry for more goals and Whittaker unleashed an audacious shot from 35 yards that fizzed just over.
Aluko could have added to his tally for the night when he collected from Kyle Bartley only to see his effort palmed onto the side-netting by Pernis. Instead, the fourth goal was claimed by Ness who picked up the ball on the edge of the area, amid Rangers claims for a penalty for hand ball, and drove home after 57 minutes.
There was to be no hat-trick for Aluko, who left the pitch to rapturous applause after 74 minutes, allowing Bedoya to make a rare appearance. It was Bedoya who put the gloss on the win when he raced onto a pass from fellow American Maurice Edu and fired low past the United goalkeeper with six minutes to go.