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Smith praise for Rangers goalscorer Lafferty

Rangers manager Walter Smith paid tribute to Kyle Lafferty after he helped the Scottish champions move to within potentially two games of securing the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title.

The Northern Irishman has endured his fair share of criticism but netted only his third goal of the season as Rangers secured a 3-1 win against Aberdeen at Ibrox.

His strike was sandwiched between goals from Steven Davis and Kenny Miller as Rangers moved 13 points clear at the top of the table.

Lafferty was drafted into the starting line-up, with top goalscorer Kris Boyd left on the bench, and Smith was pleased to see him add to the double he netted against Motherwell back in December.

"I'm pleased for him," he said.

"He started the game well and played very well in the second half. It was a terrific goal. At that stage of the game we needed the gap to be wider and we were delighted he got the goal.

"If you look at the goals he scored previously prior to this season, playing wide on the left, his goals have been excellent. This season has not been so clever so we are glad he got the goal."

Boyd has failed to find the back of the net in recent matches and Smith felt he needed a break after a quick return from surgery he underwent in January.

He said: "On reflection I think I've been a bit unfair to Kris Boyd because he went straight back into the team after his hernia operation and in hindsight maybe we should have let him get his fitness levels up.

"We have a break now and hopefully that will allow him to come back all the better for it against Dundee United."

Darren Mackie pulled a goal back for the Dons but it was not enough to prevent Rangers from edging ever closer to a second successive championship.

Smith said: "It was always going to be an awkward one for us tonight with Aberdeen not getting a top six place.

"They defended well in the early stages and it was going to take something special, which Steven Davis came up with.

"There was a little slackness after the second goal and that allowed Aberdeen to get a goal.

"But I'm delighted the win leaves us with two games in the final six to retain the championship. It's a good situation for us.

"It's a really good position to be in and I'm sure any team in the league would like to be in this position. I know it's boring to say but we now just take the games on an individual basis."

Aberdeen manager Mark McGhee felt there were positives to take from the clash at Ibrox but warned his side that they must start picking up points if they are to avoid being dragged any closer to bottom side Falkirk.

He said: "It was a better performance although the result is not any better. There were positives but we lost 3-1 so we can't be too happy.

"It was disappointing how we lost the goals but those are things we can fix in time. I thought we might get something when we got the goal back and it was a well-worked goal. I thought we had a chance but it wasn't to be.

"We are not comfortable yet with a nine-point lead over Falkirk and that's something that has to be addressed.

"We have to get more daylight between us and them and our game against St Johnstone at the weekend is a more important game for us than this one."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph