CHAMPIONS! Rangers Romp Home

Last updated : 25 May 2009 By Southside Johnny

Attendance 14,077

The League Flag has come home - Rangers are Champions, winning the SPL title in some style with an emphatic and deserved 3-0 win over Dundee United at Tannadice this afternoon.

It was a victory for football - the class and skill of the Light Blues proving too good over the course of the season for the power and physical threat of their Glasgow rivals.

Three Championships had already been clinched by the Ibrox men at Tannadice - in 1976, 1990 and 1997 - all with 1-0 wins achieved with goals scored by Derek Johnstone, Trevor Steven and Brian Laudrup.

Manager Walter Smith fielded an unchanged side from last weekend and Rangers had a terrific opportunity to open the scoring in just ninety seconds when Steve Davis broke free on the right, his cutback being dummied by Kris Boyd only to be missed by Kenny Miller coming in behind him.

The goal was merely delayed however - Kyle Lafferty knocking the ball home after Davis' pass found Boyd who miss-hit his shot across the face of goal in five minutes.

The title chasers had been sharper and more resolute from the opening seconds - but there was an early warning in fourteen minutes when David Robertson was offered a free header from a Craig Conway cross only to direct it straight at Neil Alexander.

Lafferty had the ball in the net again on the half-hour mark from a Steve Davis cutback only for the goal to be chalked off for offside.

It was all Rangers - Boyd was denied in 38 minutes when he turned on a Sasa Papac cross only to see his shot headed off the line by Mihael Kovacevic.

From the resultant Pedro Mendes corner Madjid Bougherra headed over the bar.

Rangers struck again at a crucial time - on the stroke of half-time - when a Papac free-kick broke to Pedro Mendes who rifled home a twenty-yard left-foot drive.

2-0 ahead at the interval, the Light Blue legions were in good voice as they revelled in their team's first-half display.

It got even better - the goal of the game arrived six minutes after the restart when a sweeping Mendes - Davis - Steven Whittaker move sliced open the home defence, the full-back's low cross being stabbed home by Boyd.

The title was won - and everyone inside Tannadice as well as in the East End of Glasgow knew it. Nacho Novo and Barry Ferguson replaced Boyd and Miller in 65 and 71 minutes respectively.

Novo might have made it four six minutes after coming on when he was through on a long Papac ball only to see United goalkeeper Lukasz Zaluska block his effort.

Lee McCulloch substituted for Lafferty in 81 minutes - and four minutes later Neil Alexander denied the home side a consolation goal when he clawed away Bougherra' miss-kick following a Paul Caddis cross.

The day - and the Championship - belonged to Rangers, and when the SPL trophy was presented to Captain David Weir the Ibrox men were acclaimed as worthy Champions, having been cheated out of the prize last season due to shameful fixture manipulation by Celtic.

Walter Smith rightly participated in the celebrations, savouring the moment as he lingered longer than most with the Championship trophy surrounded by a sea of red, white and blue.

The party continued back at Ibrox Stadium, where 30,000 fans (including many who had been present in Dundee) gathered in celebration to greet the Champions.

For Dundee United incidentally today's defeat cost them a place in Europe next season, Aberdeen having defeated Hibernian 2-1 at Pittodrie to secure fourth place in the League.

Celtic incidentally could only eke out a goalless draw with Hearts at Parkhead to finish four points behind the Champions.

DUNDEE UNITED Zaluska; Kovacevic, Dods, Wilkie (Kenneth 53), Dixon; Caddis, D. Robertson (Sandaza 51), Buaben, Gomis, Conway (Swanson 64); Goodwillie

UNUSED SUBS McGovern, Dillon, Grainger, S. Robertson

RANGERS Alexander, Whittaker, Weir, Bougherra, Papac; Davis, Edu, Mendes, Lafferty (McCulloch 81); Boyd (Novo 65), Miller (Ferguson 71)

UNUSED SUBS McGregor, Naismith, Fleck, Wilson

REFEREE Dougie McDonald