Super Novo flattens Tangerines
Gers run out 3-1 winners to close within a point of leaders Celtic
By James Dall. Last Updated: 10/05/08 3:12pm
Novo: Gers hero
A fine brace from Nacho Novo ensured Rangers moved within a point of leaders Celtic as Walter Smith's side ran out 3-1 winners over Dundee United at Ibrox on Saturday.
Novo struck twice in the first half, and although United reduced the deficit through Mark De Vries, Jean Claude Darcheville sealed the vital success in injury-time to keep Gers' hopes of an unprecedented quadruple alive.
The first goalscoring opportunity fell to the head of Noel Hunt, however his effort zipped across the face of goal and wide.
Rangers soon responded, and broke the deadlock on seven minutes as an unmarked Novo headed home Kevin Thomson's whipped free-kick.
And just 11 minutes later, Gers doubled their lead with Novo on target once more, this time striking a terrific left-footed effort across goal to leave goalkeeper Lukasz Zaluska clasping at thin air.
Zaluska was again called into action after he was quickly off his line to shut out the surging Kirk Broadfoot at the near post.
United mustered two opportunities before the interval, through De Vries and David Robertson, but were unable to make a breakthrough.
In the 55th minute the visitors had strong appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Mike McCurry after David Weir made contact with Noel Hunt in the area.
On the hour mark, Novo looked set to complete his hat-trick after he was cleverly played through by substitute Dean Furman, on for the injured Kevin Thomson, however the Spaniard pulled his shot wide.
Gers went even closer to making it 3-0 just minutes later with Christian Dailly denied by the post after his shot had clipped a United player on its route to goal.
There was controversy in the 71st minute when United had a goal ruled out after Daniel Swanson's long-range strike caught a deflection to nestle in the bottom corner.
The effort was disallowed after the linesman flagged for offside as the ball appeared to clip David Robinson; however on closer inspection, the effort may have actually nicked a Gers player.
Craig Levein's men did pull one back on 76 minutes as De Vries' colossal header nestled into the corner to set up a tense finale for Gers.
Smith's team hung on, though, and wrapped up the triumph as substitute Darcheville slotted home to close the gap between Gers and leaders Celtic to just one point with a game in hand over The Bhoys, who play Hibernian on Sunday.