Rangers in cruise control

Last updated : 29 January 2005 By Grandmaster Suck
Rangers returned to the top of the League with a
comfortable 3-0 win over Livingston at Ibrox this
afternoon, a win that could and should have been much
more comfortable.

Manager Alex McLeish made three changes from Aberdeen
with Allan McGregor, Michael Ball and new signing
Sotirios Kyrgiakos from Panathinaikos replacing Stefan
Klos, Gregory Vignal and Bob Malcolm. Alex Rae
captained the home side in the absence of the
desperately unlucky Klos.

There was a warm welcome for Ibrox Legend, and now of
course Livingston Boss, Richard Gough from the 48,579

Livvie goalkeeper Roddy McKenzie defied Dado Prso with
a superb one-handed save from the Croatian's header
following a Thomas Buffel cross in eight minutes.

The opening goal was merely delayed five minutes
however - and it was created by Kyrgiakos with a fine
long ball to Prso who slotted the ball home.

Nacho Novo almost made it 2-0 in 28 minutes when he
fastened onto a Marvin Andrews through-ball only to
see McKenzie touch his effort wide.

There was an injury blow soon afterwards when Bojan
Djordjic limped off to be replaced by Hamed Namouchi.

McKenzie again came to his side's rescue seven minutes
later, turning wide a Novo volley from a Prso header,
and then from the resultant Ricksen corner the
goalkeeper parried a netbound Kyrgiakos header.

It was all Rangers - Buffel shooting into the side-net
from a Prso flick in 42 minutes.

A one-goal lead was scarcely a measure of the home
side's superiority at the interval - and yet another
chance was squandered in 56 minutes when Namouchi's
shot from a Prso cutback was blocked.

The game's most controversial incident occurred five
minutes later when Novo, clean through from a Prso
pass, was brought down from behind by Emmanuel Dorado.
It should have been a straight red card, as
undoubtedly a clear goal-scoring opportunity had been
denied, yet somehow Referee Kevin Toner decided that
it merited ONLY a yellow card.

Revenge was sweet however - Ricksen finding the net
from the resultant twenty-yard free-kick to make it
2-0 after 61 minutes.

Six minutes later it was 3-0 when Novo turned the ball
home from close range after a Prso cross, head-flicked
on by Nacho, was volleyed goalwards by Buffel.

Steven Thompson replaced Prso in seventy minutes, the
Croatian departing to a standing ovation.

Four minutes later Rae almost made it four with an
opportunist effort from virtually on the touchline
some thirty yards out after the outrushing McKenzie
had cleared from Thompson - the Ibrox Captain's shot
drifting just wide.

Novo almost outdid even that in 77 minutes - his
attempt from the halfway line being held by McKenzie.

Eight minutes later Thompson's header from a Rae cross
was just over, but the final effort of the afternoon
came at the other end - Derek Lilley's twenty-yard
drive being turned over by McGregor.

Alex McLeish afterwards reflected on the win:

"The points were important. We upped the tempo in the
second-half. Allan McGregor did well and had some
comfortable saves. Sotirios Kyrgiakos had a
comfortable, assured performance and handled the game

On the Barry Ferguson Saga:

"The club has shown ambition. Deadline Day will tell
us everything."

RANGERS McGregor; Ross, Andrews, Kyrgiakos, Ball;
Novo, A. Rae, Ricksen, Djordjic (Namouchi 28); Buffel,
Prso (Thompson 70)
UNUSED SUBS Malcolm, G. Smith, Burke, Hutton, Hughes

LIVINGSTON McKenzie; Bahoken, Rubio, Dorado, Dair;
Wilson, Hand (Brittain 78), Vincze, O'Brien; Lilley,
Kriston (Easton 67)
UNUSED SUBS Meldrum, McPake, Horvath, Harding, Stanic

REFEREE Kevin Toner

Attendance 48,579