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Sunday, 29 December, 2002, 16:51 GMT
Lovenkrands keeps Rangers top
Peter Lovenkrands puts Rangers ahead
Peter Lovenkrands puts Rangers ahead
Kilmarnock 0-1 Rangers

Rangers ensured they would be at the top of the table in the new year with a hard-fought victory over Kilmarnock.

Peter Lovenkrands scored the crucial goal midway through the first half after a defence-splitting pass by Ronald de Boer.

Gary McSwegan hit the bar in Killie's best effort of the game and although Rangers wasted a number of opportunities to seal the points, their win was well deserved.

The opening stages saw Rangers dominate possession, but it was 13 minutes before they had their first effort on target - a Shota Arveladze header that Gordon Marshall held comfortably.

It was uncomfortable at times - we couldn't put Kilmarnock away

Alex McLeish
Rangers manager
Kilmarnock then had a chance of their own to open the scoring after poor play by Lovenkrands, but James Fowler was foiled as Stefan Klos dived bravely at his feet.

Barry Ferguson and Lorenzo Amoruso both threatened before Arevladze and Maurice Ross combined well, only for De Boer to find his way to goal blocked by three Kilmarnock defenders.

Rangers took the lead with 24 minutes gone after a glorious pass from De Boer released Lovenkrands on the left and the Dane cut inside to fire past Marshall at his near post.

Lorenzo Amoruso rises to get in a header on goal
Lorenzo Amoruso rises to get in a header on goal
Killie brought on Craig Dargo for the second half and he almost made an immediate impact, combining with Andy McLaren before unleashing a powerful shot that Klos did well to push away.

The home side almost drew level in spectacular fashion on the hour mark when Gary McSwegan curled a superb shot from 30 yards out only to see the ball come back off the angle of post and bar.

Moments later, Rangers might have extended their lead when De Boer set up Lovenkrands for a shot that was parried by Marshall and then Michael Mols came close to glancing a header into the net from a tight angle.

The visitors should have had a second after Lovenkrands broke at speed and his pass to De Boer was moved onto Claudio Caniggia, who cut inside but his cute chip fell wide of the post.

Michael Mols and Alan Mahood battle for possession
Michael Mols and Alan Mahood battle for possession
Then Caniggia set up De Boer but the Dutchman headed over when it seemed easier to score.

The pair combined again in 80 minutes but this time Marshall saved De Boer's headed effort.

A powerful run by Amoruso let Mols in on goal, but he sliced his shot wide as Rangers continued to spurn chances to make the game safe.


Kilmarnock: Marshall, Canero, Innes, Shields, Dillon, Fowler, Fulton, Mahood, Mitchell (Dargo 45), McSwegan (Boyd 66), McLaren.
Subs Not Used: Meldrum, Dindeleux, Hay.

Booked: Innes, McLaren.

Rangers: Klos, Moore, Amoruso, Malcolm, Ross, Ferguson, De Boer, Muscat, Arveladze (Caniggia 51), Mols, Lovenkrands.
Subs Not Used: McGregor, Nerlinger, Latapy, McLean.

Booked: Moore.

Attendance: 13,396

Referee: D McDonald

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's David Begg
"Both sides had chances"
Rangers boss Alex McLeish
"We weathered the storm"
Killie manager Jim Jefferies
"The players gave me everything"
The SPL season gets under way

Sunday games

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Links to more Scot Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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