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Page last updated at 16:49 GMT, Saturday, 21 February 2009

Rangers 3-1 Kilmarnock

By Andy Campbell

Frazer Wright and Kenny Miller
Miller (right) dispossessed Wright to put Rangers in front

Rangers came from behind against Kilmarnock at Ibrox to go top of the Scottish Premier League.

Killie took the lead after 17 minutes when Jamie Hamill finished low past Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor but Kris Boyd levelled in the 29th minute.

Kenny Miller then scored two goals in three minutes to give Rangers a comfortable half-time lead.

Hamill and Manuel Pascali tested McGregor after the break with Pedro Mendes coming close for the home side.

Celtic have the opportunity to return to the SPL summit when they face Motherwell on Sunday.

The hosts threatened in the opening minutes with Boyd twice drawing saves from goalkeeper Alan Combe with low drives.

But it was Kilmarnock who opened the scoring when Gavin Skelton released Garry Hay on the left and his cross was despatched into the net by Hamill.

After being booked for unsporting behaviour, Boyd drew his side level when Pedro Mendes' corner was knocked down by Madjid Bougherra and Rangers' top scorer slammed the ball into the net.

The Killie defence continued to come under pressure and Sasa Papac headed over from Steven Davis' cross.

Rangers went ahead in the 33rd minute when Miller chased Boyd's pass and stole the ball from the retreating Frazer Wright before driving beyond Combe.

Pedro Mendes and Craig Bryson
Mendes (left) battles for possession with Craig Bryson

And Miller soon found the net again, latching on to Mendes' defence-splitting pass and firing home with the outside of the right foot.

Combe dropped a Mendes corner, allowing David Weir to shoot towards goal and Simon Ford cleared the ball on the line as Kilmarnock struggled to cope with Rangers' advances.

Kilmarnock retained possession well in the opening phase of the second half and Hamill's shot from 20 yards was held by McGregor.

Hamill then got on the end of Kevin Kyle's flick-on and fired an effort wide from a tight angle.

At the other end, Mendes cut in from the left-hand side and hammered a shot towards the near post, forcing Combe to usher the ball wide.

John Fleck's replacement Aaron Niguez sent over a teasing cross from the left and Wright did well to clear the ball under pressure.

Kyle got into a promising position on the right but his cross went harmlessly wide as Hay waited in the middle.

Killie's Mehdi Taouil then slipped a neat pass through pass to Manuel Pascali, whose low shot was blocked well by McGregor.

Miller had a chance to complete his hat-trick when he cut in from the right-hand side but his shot was blocked by David Lilley.

Combe was booked in injury time for dissent after being unhappy with substitute Kyle Lafferty's challenge.

Rangers manager Walter Smith:
"We're delighted to win. We knew that if we did win today we would go top of the league, albeit for possibly a short period of time so we're delighted to get the win.

"We managed to start the game very well and push Kilmarnock back the way and had them stuck inside their own half for the majority of the game.

"Then, as normal in football, they broke away and got a goal with their first real attack. That set us back a little bit.

"It was a good reaction from all our players. We got one from a set play and then after that a couple of good goals by Kenny Miller.

"I'm a little bit disappointed that we didn't add to that, considering the pressure we had in the second half.

"It's nice to be top of the league but we have to keep winning. Celtic have shown that they can keep that up, we've still to prove that. Ours is an on-going challenge."

Kilmarnock manager Jim Jefferies:
"We set up terrifically and we were very angry at half-time because the goals we lost came from individual errors.

"Rangers had a couple of long shots early on that didn't trouble us. We got into our stride, settled down, had a great move and scored a great goal.

"Manuel Pascali was designated to pick up Madjid Bougherra. He didn't get off the deck and allowed Bougherra's header to come in.

"When you've got people like Kenny Miller round about you, you're going to get hounded. If you hesitate, he'll beat you and that's what Frazer Wright did.

"And the third one's even worse because Manuel Pascali lost a 50-50 challenge in a bad area to Pedro Mendes and from losing that 50-50, Mendes has punished us with a great pass.

"That's three individual errors and we've gone from one-nil up to three-one down seven minutes later.

"In the second half, we cut out the mistakes. There was a little bit of damage limitation because you don't want to end up losing five or six here and destroying the confidence."

Rangers: McGregor, Broadfoot, Bougherra, Weir, Papac, Davis, Mendes, Ferguson, Fleck (Niguez 69), Boyd (Lafferty 77), Miller.
Subs Not Used: Alexander, Edu, Naismith, Dailly, Whittaker.

Booked: Boyd.

Goals: Boyd 29, Miller 33, 35.

Kilmarnock: Combe, Murray, Lilley, Wright, Ford, Hay (Gibson 82), Hamill, Pascali, Skelton (Taouil 71), Kyle, Bryson.
Subs Not Used: Rascle, O'Leary, Flannigan, Sammon, Anson.

Booked: Skelton, Combe.

Goals: Hamill 17.

Att: 50,301

Ref: B Winter

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Rangers' Kenny Miller 9.07 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
SPL as it happened
21 Feb 09 |  Scottish Premier
SPL photo gallery
21 Feb 09 |  Scotland

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