Rangers 3 Dundee Utd 0

Last updated : 14 December 2002 By Footymad Previewer

Another outstanding performance from Rangers captain Barry Ferguson allowed the Ibrox side to move five points clear at the top of the SPL.

Ferguson netted all three of his sides' goals scoring from a free kick, a penalty and open play to display the full range of his talents.

However the Rangers captain may understandably be frustrated to find that match referee Stuart Dougal, and not himself, is the one making all the headlines.

Dougal looked fragile throughout, but finally lost all composure in the 59th minute when he controversially dismissed Rangers' Fernando Ricksen for a challenge on Charlie Miller that seemingly merited no more than a caution.

Ricksen had behaved himself up to that point, and while he was heavy in the tackle, the referee's judgement was perhaps an over reaction on his behalf.

But Dougal was not finished there. With ten minutes remaining, he evened the numbers once more by showing a straight red card to United's Jim McIntyre.

On this occasion, Dougal was certainly in error, with McIntyre's attempt to trip Shota Arveladze deserving of no more than a yellow card.

Add to all that a touchline skirmish between the Rangers doctor and the fourth official in the aftermath of Ricksen's dismissal, which thankfully ended with a brisk shaking of hands, and you can only begin to imagine the drama at Ibrox this Saturday afternoon.

Peter Lovenkrands proved troublesome throughout, and it was he who was fouled 25 yards out to give Ferguson his free kick opportunity after 25 minutes. The Scottish international midfielder, made no mistake with a fabulous right foot shot which curled into the top right hand corner of Paul Gallacher's goal.

The United defence was struggling to cope at this stage and Arveladze in particular came close to adding a second on a number of occasions.

However, the visitors came back into the match towards the end of the first half and Charlie Miller and Jim Hamilton were unfortunate with their efforts.

In the 56th minute Rangers moved two ahead. Ferguson took advantage of an uncharacteristic mistake from Mark Wilson in the centre circle and raced half the length of the field to fire past Gallacher.

Then came Ricksen's dismissal, which was followed by substitute Allan Smart seeing his effort cleared off the line from Lorenzo Amoruso.

Rangers sealed their victory with five minutes remaining when David McCracken brought down Arveladze in the box for Ferguson to claim his hat-trick from the spot.