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Last Updated:  Sunday, 16 March, 2003, 19:40 GMT
McLeish answers critics
Rangers celebrate as they take a two-goal lead
Rangers scored twice in the first half at Hampden
Both managers were delighted with their team's performances, but it was Rangers' Alex McLeish who was basking in CIS Cup glory on Sunday.

Celtic boss Martin O'Neill pointed to a disallowed goal and a missed penalty as evidence that his side should have won the final at Hampden Park.

But history books will simply record the 2-1 victory that made it three cup final victories out of three as Rangers boss for Alex McLeish.

Some had questioned his side's title credentials after Celtic narrowed the gap in the Scottish Premier League last weekend with a 1-0 home victory.

And McLeish said: "I think we got that wake-up call and it was great to bounce back."

It was a hair-raising 45 minutes
Rangers boss Alex McLeish
Rangers had some nervous moments on their way to retaining the trophy after going ahead by half-time thanks to goals from Claudio Caniggia and Peter Lovenkrands before Henrik Larsson pulled one back.

"The first half we were fantastic and I felt we thoroughly deserved the lead that we had, but it was a hair-raising second 45 minutes," McLeish admitted.

Some have suggested that the League Cup no longer matters now that qualification to the Uefa Cup does not go to the winners.

But McLeish stressed: "The pressure is on to win the first trophy as both clubs can go on to win the treble and you could see how much it meant to both teams out there."

O'Neill's dream of four trophies bit the dust and he blamed referee's assistant David Doig after he flagged John Hartson for offside before the striker fired what he thought was the equaliser in the second-half.

Peter Lovenkrands celebrates in style
Peter Lovenkrands scored Rangers' second goal at Hampden
Television replays showed that the official got it wrong and the manager said: "I was very disappointed to find out that the goal was disallowed and he was a yard onside.

"That's a big decision. It wasn't as if it happened very quickly. In these games you have got to get it right.

"But I thought we were absolutely sensational and we should have won the game."

Celtic arrived at the National Stadium on the back of a draw with Liverpool in the Uefa Cup quarter-final first leg at Celtic Park.

"We could have wilted at half-time in the game considering Thursday night's exersions, but the players showed the will and the desire to go again, which was just incredible," added O'Neill.

"It was just wave after wave after wave of attack. I have never been so proud of my team."

Rangers boss Alex McLeish
"I'm delighted with the win"



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