Rangers 4 Livingston 3

Last updated : 04 December 2002 By Footymad Previewer

What preparation ahead of Saturdays visit of old firm rivals Celtic. Cruising to an emphatic victory for most of the match, with even the possibility of going top should Martin O Neill's side slip up in Edinburgh.

Rangers ended the game a player to the good but crawling in just a single goal ahead. The Ibrox sideÂ’s late play was forgettable to say the least, but they did hold on.

It never seemed likely beforehand that Rangers would stumble ahead of such an important weekend fixture and that suspicion was proved correct as Alex McLeish's men coasted to a three-goal lead inside the first 17 minutes.

Two goals from Georgian international Shota Arveladze, on the back of a seventh minute Barry Ferguson free-kick put the Ibrox side in command; and all that after Ronald De Boer had squandered a glorious opening after just ten seconds.

FergusonÂ’s breakthrough was a deftly struck set-piece which found the bottom left-hand corner from 25 yards. Then, just three minutes later, Neil McCann crossed for Arveladze to touch past Javier Sanchez Broto with the slightest of deflections.

Gary Bollan and Michael Mols threatened at opposite ends before Arveladze netted RangersÂ’ third of the evening. Fernando Ricksen sent a great cross into the box from the left and Arveladze found himself free to head in with ease.

Rangers were rampant now and they bombarded the Livingston goal continuously until half time. Arthur Numan, Mols, Arveladze and De Boer all had chances to increase the home sideÂ’s lead, a fabulous 33rd minute run and shot from Mols, which went narrowly over, the best of the bunch.

The second period began with a third Rangers goal. De Boer found space down the right wing and crossed for Arveladze to grab his hat-trick with a well placed shot.

Livingston sub Rolando Zarate pulled a goal back for the visitors in the 49th minute, his 30-yard free-kick mirroring FergusonÂ’s accuracy and leaving the goalkeeper helpless.

However, RangersÂ’ momentum continued and Mols and McCann should have added further goals.

Livingston grabbed a second in the 72nd minute courtesy of a Barry Wilson drive, but then Bollan stupidly recieved his second booking of the game to calm the tempo back down.

Unbelievably, and to the horror of the home support, Zarate pulled a third goal back for the visitors with just three minutes left on the clock to ensure the nerviest of finishes