Rangers storm back to thrash Dundee and make Celtic wait for the title

Rangers prolonged their Scottish ­Premiership title race with Celtic after surging back from two goals down to beat Dundee 5-2 at Ibrox.

Tony Docherty’s side needed a victory to stay in the hunt for European football and they scored twice inside 40 ­minutes through the defenders Jordan McGhee and Antonio Portales. Ross McCausland pulled a goal back just before the interval but Rangers were jeered off by their supporters at half-time.

The home side responded well, however, and Cyriel ­Dessers got the comeback rolling when he headed in an equaliser seven minutes after the break. Todd Cantwell’s spectacular effort from wide on the touchline after 66 minutes beat the goalkeeper Jon McCracken and went in off the post, even if it looked like it was intended as a cross.

Scott Wright, on as a substitute, knocked in a fourth late on and curled in another in added time but ­Rangers’ title fate – all but sealed with a 2-1 defeat at Celtic on Saturday – could be confirmed in less than 24 hours. Celtic are three points clear of their city rivals, who have only one game left, and can secure their third successive title against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Wednesday night. Dundee’s defeat means fifth-placed St Mirren are now confirmed to have qualified for European football.

Philippe Clement, the Rangers manager, said: “There were a lot of positive things but not without the ball in the first half. That’s of no use if you aren’t good enough without the ball.

“I was really angry about that at half-time because football is about both sides. In the second half, you saw what they can do if they are focused on both things. But I cannot make myself angry every half-time or before every game. They need to understand that and take lessons from this. Booed off the pitch at half-time. And a lot of applause after the game because people enjoyed how they saw the team playing, how they scored and how aggressive they won the duels and how they did not concede in the second half.”

The Rangers fans who turned up less than enthusiastic after the demoralising weekend defeat against Celtic knew that Clement was without the services of 10 injured players with John ­Lundstram suspended after being sent off at Parkhead. Ridvan Yilmaz, Nico Raskin, Cantwell and ­McCausland came into the side as did Leon King, who made his first start of the season.

Ibrox was wet and subdued but the Rangers fans were alerted by a powerful Yilmaz drive in the third minute following a neat turn which drew a fine save from McCracken.

The Taysiders were neat and tidy in possession but in the 16th minute Fábio Silva took a pass from Dessers, tiptoed past the Dundee defence and clipped the bar with a vicious angled-drive.

Rangers substitute Scott Wright rounds off the scoring with his second goal, and his side’s fifth of the game. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

James Tavernier, the Rangers captain, cleared the bar with a free-kick from 25 yards on the half-hour mark before McCracken tipped a shot from McCausland over the bar, after Luke McCowan gave the ball away.

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The Dundee attacker Amadou Bakayoko then forced Jack Butland into a decent save with a 20-yard drive but the Englishman did not look too clever when McGhee popped up at the back post to stab Owen Dodgson’s searching cross down into the ground and into the roof of the net. More boos rang around the stadium when Portales’s cheeky finish from a Dodgson cross following a quick Dundee free-kick sped past Butland and into the far corner.

McCausland reduced the deficit just before the break when he poked the ball through the legs of McCracken after the Dundee defence hesitated but it was not enough to stop the half-time boos from the disgruntled home supporters. However the home side drew level when Dessers headed in a Cantwell cross from six yards for his 22nd Rangers goal of the season and the hosts found fresh zest.

McCracken parried away a Cantwell effort, Yilmaz fired just over before he was replaced with 21-year-old Robbie Fraser making his debut. Cantwell’s goal took most people by surprise, including McCracken, with the midfielder picking up a pass from Tavernier wide on the right and firing the ball high over the Dundee keeper and into the net.

McCracken then made terrific saves from Silva and Dessers before the latter somehow knocked a Cantwell cross over the bar, while Wright, one of a clutch of substitutes, added a fourth following a cross from fellow replacement Kieran Dowell and grabbed his second with a fine finish at the death.

Rangers finish their league season at Tynecastle when they face Hearts on Saturday, while Dundee host ­Kilmarnock, with 12.30pm kick-offs for both games.

The Guardian

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