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Treble dream over for Rangers

By Lisa Gray

Falkirk 3 Rangers 2: Holders Rangers crashed out of the Scottish Communities League Cup last night at the hands of Falkirk as hopes of a domestic treble this season were left in tatters.

Farid El Allagui grabbed a double for the Irn-Bru First Division side before Dorin Goian and Nikica Jelavic both netted for Rangers.

But Mark Millar had the final say with an injury-time winner as Falkirk booked their place in the fourth round.

Rangers manager Ally McCoist suggested beforehand that he may shuffle his pack and he made four changes from the side who defeated Celtic in Sunday's Old Firm derby.

Reserve goalkeeper Neil Alexander — who has started in every League Cup tie over the last two seasons — was drafted into the side for his first appearance this term.

Alejandro Bedoya was handed his first start for the club, along with Lee McCulloch and David Healy, with Allan McGregor, Jelavic and Steven Naismith on the bench and Maurice Edu dropping out of the squad.

Falkirk headed into the tie undefeated in their last eight outings.

Jelavic was thrown into the action after 55 minutes but it was Falkirk who took the lead three minutes later. Kieran Duffie supplied the cross for El Allagui at the back post and he nodded past Alexander from close range.

Naismith was immediately added to the action for Bedoya and was denied by the post after just two minutes on the park.

Naismith's header from a few yards out was then touched over by the goalkeeper.

Instead, Rangers found themselves caught on the break when Falkirk doubled their advantage after 73 minutes.

Craig Sibbald was the provider on this occasion but the goalscorer was the same as El Allagui connected with a header in plenty of space and nodded past Alexander.

Rangers handed themselves a lifeline when Goian threw himself in front of Steven Whittaker's cross and bulleted home a header with eight minutes to go.

Jelavic sent a header home from a few yards out after 86 minutes.

But just when the tie looked set for extra time, Millar's shot deep into injury time was touched onto the underside of the bar by Alexander but he could not keep the effort out of the net as Falkirk claimed a dramatic late winner.

l Ayr claimed their second top-flight scalp in the Scottish Communities League Cup after defeating Hearts 4-1 on penalties tonight following a 1-1 stalemate at Somerset Park.

Danny Grainger and Rudi Skacel were both denied by Ayr goalkeeper Kevin Cuthbert in the shoot-out while Mark Roberts coolly slotted home the winning spot-kick for the Irn-Bru First Division side, who eliminated Inverness in the previous round.

In normal play Gareth Wardlaw equalised to cancel out Scott Robinson's 48th-minute opener for Hearts and send the tie to extra-time.

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