Rangers 2 Kilmarnock 1: Luck's in for Gers as Clancy own goal blows title race open
By Updated: 23:29 BST, 13 March 2011
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Parts of the performance may have stuck in the throats of Rangers fans, but fit-again tonsillitis victim Kyle Lafferty was left looking at the bigger picture after this slender win over Kilmarnock.
The Northern Irishman did not care that it took his team until the 87th minute to finally get past an under-strength Kilmarnock side, missing star men, Alexei Eremenko and Mehdi Taouil plus their best defender, Frazer Wright.
Nor was he bothered that the winner was an own goal from Tim Clancy, which came when Killie were down to 10 men with Momo Sissoko off having treatment for an injury.To Lafferty, all that matters was the victory which pulls Rangers to within two points of Celtic, with a game in hand, and leaves his team full of confidence ahead of a season-defining spell against PSV Eindhoven in the second leg of their last-16 Europa League tie on Thursday night before the Old Firm Co-operative Insurance Cup Final at Hampden three days later. On target: Diouf opened his account for Rangers with this first-half effort MATCH FACTS
RANGERS (3-5-2): McGregor; Bougherra, Weir, Bartley; Foster (Weiss 75), Whittaker, Davis, Edu, Papac; Diouf (Lafferty 75), Jelavic.
Subs not used: Alexander, Fleck, Healy, Wylde, Hutton. Booked: Foster, Weiss, Papac, Jelavic.
KILMARNOCK (4-4-1-1): Jaakola; Hamill, Sissoko (Aubameyang 88), Pascali, Clancy; Kelly, Bryson, Fowler, Hay; Silva; Gros (Miguel 60).
Subs not used: Letheren, Berntsson, Agard, Laurant, McKenzie. Booked: Hay, Pascali.
Referee: Alan Muir.
Man of the match: Madjid Bougherra. ‘Winning late does give us a boost ahead of a big week,' said Lafferty.
‘Victory brings us closer to Celtic, so it's a massive result for us today. ‘We all knew it would be a tough game because Kilmarnock are a good side who play good football, but we know Thursday against PSV will be even tougher because they have some great players.
But we are more than capable of getting the result we need then, too.' Lafferty has twice been struck down by tonsillitis this season, but with the Rangers squad so threadbare, he is having to manage his condition until the summer, when he will have an operation for the problem. ‘It's been frustrating because my tonsils played up, and then, after I came back into the team, they played up again. But I feel fine now,' he said. ‘I'm staying on top of it with antibiotics from the doctor and, hopefully, I don't have a relapse.
I just felt really tired. It took a lot out of me and when the season is over I'll be getting them out, probably. But, hopefully, if I stay on top of it and listen to the doctor then it should be fine until then.' After a dull opening, the game burst into life before half-time when Kille striker William Gros's control let him down again, and Steven Whittaker eventually fed El-Hadji Diouf 10 yards from goal.
Off the mark: The on-loan Blackburn striker wheels away in celebration after scoring the opening goal of the game The Senegalese international and part-time Public Enemy No 1 spent last week pointing out that he is no murderer, but he showed a fine killer instinct to crack beyond Anssi Jaakola for his first goal in Scotland — to add to his header away to Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League. Kilmarnock had not looked like scoring but, jasabola on the hour mark, they suddenly had a penalty when Richard Foster was penalised for a rash tackle on the marauding Clancy in a nothing area of the box.
Hamill's confident kick flew high to the left of the despairing dive of Allan McGregor. As Foster was booked for complaining about the decision, Hamill escaped the same fate for celebrating provocatively in front of the Rangers fans. The home side should have had their own penalty when Nikica Jelavic was fouled by Sissoko, then Kyle Bartley volleyed a great chance over from six yards.
And just as it looked like Rangers would drop two costly points, substitute Vladimir Weiss's superb cross from the left was turned beyond his own keeper by Clancy, who had tucked inside from full-back to cover for the injured Sissoko. Kilmarnock had two more penalty claims, with sub Rui Miguel felled by Bartley, then the luckless Clancy claiming after a tackle by Lafferty.
After the own goal, it was tough to take for the Irishman. Spot-on: Jamie Hamill scores Kilmarnock's equaliser from the penalty spot ‘I've scored at the wrong end,' groaned Clancy.
‘Weiss has put in a quality cross and unfortunately I've finished it. ‘I can't recall scoring many own goals in my career, but it happens. I knew if I'd left it and they had a player tapping it in, then people would have said I should have cleared it. ‘There was definitely contact for the penalty as I flicked it and Richard Foster caught the sole of my foot.
But I thought the second one was more of a penalty than the first. You win some, you lose some.' Killie boss Mixu Paatelainen was adamant his side should have left Ibrox with something to show for their efforts. ‘I'm disappointed for the players because the performance was good and organised,' he said.
‘We passed the ball and dominated the midfield. ‘Could we have had more penalties? We're just gracious to get one here. It's a difficult place to get penalties, so maybe two would have been too much. ‘I thought they were strong cases but the ref felt they weren't and so be it.
We didn't deserve to lose. Rangers were a little bit fortunate to win the game, but good teams are fortunate.' RELATED ARTICLES
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