Gers held at Tannadice
Substitute Lafferty rescues a point for Rangers
Last Updated: December 13, 2008 2:47pm
Wiklie: Second-half leveller
Rangers missed the chance to close to within a point of Celtic after being held to an exciting 2-2 draw against Dundee United at Tannadice.
The visitors made a positive start and were rewarded when Steven Davis dummied Steven Whittaker's cross into the box allowing Kris Boyd to drill home the opening goal of the game.
Walter Smith's men dominated the remainder of the half and were unlucky not to extend that lead but were made to pay after the interval after conceding two quickfire goals.
Captain Lee Wilkie slid home Paul Dixon's deep left-wing cross at the back post and just four minutes later the home side were in front when Warren Feeney nodded home from another Dixon cross.
However, Rangers levelled matters on 76 minutes when substitute Nacho Novo picked out fellow substitute Kyle Lafferty who showed excellent composure by side-footing the ball home back across goal for a share of the spoils.
Third-placed United had lost only one of their previous 14 games, but Rangers took a grip on the game in the 11th minute when Boyd notched his 17th goal of the season.
Boyd controlled Whittaker's inside pass on the edge of the box after Garry Kenneth had been fooled by Davis' dummy, and fired a left-foot volley into the bottom corner.
Boyd almost had another opportunity five minutes later when Pedro Mendes headed Lukasz Zaluska's short kick-out into his path but Dixon just got his foot to the ball.
The game continued in a disjointed manner, with Rangers effectively closing down United.
However, Allan McGregor saved the visitors in the 29th minute when he reacted brilliantly to push away Jon Daly's downward header after the striker met Craig Conway's corner unchallenged six yards out.
Rangers reassumed a solid look for the remainder of the half and threatened a second.
The counter-attacking Kenny Miller played the ball across goal when Boyd was better-placed for a cutback, and both players were later halted by disputed offside decisions after flighted through-balls by Davis and Mendes.
Miller came close after Wilkie lobbed his own keeper as he struggled to deal with a long ball.
Miller battled to win the ball in the goalmouth with Zaluska stranded, but the United defender recovered to scramble the ball to safety.
United came out after the break looking like a different side. Daly headed Conway's cross two yards wide before Wilkie levelled in the 50th minute.
The defender had gone forward for a free-kick in the centre-circle, which United took quickly and spread out to Dixon.
The left-back advanced to the by-line and sent over a superb cross beyond the far post, where Wilkie got in front of Sasa Papac to angle the ball into the top corner.
Iain Brines soon rejected a penalty claim when Mihael Kovacevic slid in on Miller just inside the box. The full-back got the ball but it was debatable whether he took too much of the man first.
Rangers found themselves behind in the 54th minute after failing to deal with another Dixon cross.
McGregor waited in vain for his team-mates to attack the ball inside the six-yard box, and the on-loan Cardiff striker nodded the ball down and into the net.
Feeney almost latched on to Wilkie's header moments later but McGregor came off the line this time to block. The Rangers keeper was soon beaten to another high ball but did enough to force Kenneth to head over.
Rangers were struggling to get back in the game but subs Nacho Novo and Lafferty combined for a 76th-minute equaliser.
The Spaniard drove forward and slipped the ball to the unmarked Lafferty in the left channel, and the Northern Ireland international calmly rolled the ball into the far corner.
Lafferty then turned well 25 yards out before curling a powerful shot that Zaluska pushed away from his bottom corner. Rangers continued to press but Boyd hit a free-kick into the wall and Mendes curled just wide from 20 yards with the outside of his boot.
Whittaker volleyed on to the roof of the net in injury-time as Rangers had to settle for a point.