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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 01:07 GMT
Rangers stretch their lead
Arveladze appears to impede Stillie as Rangers take the lead
Rangers took a controversial lead at East End
Dunfermline Athletic 1-3 Rangers

Rangers stretched their lead to six points in the Scottish Premier League but had to dig deep to overcome a spirited challenge by a Dunfermline Athletic inspired by their three new signings.

The visitors had taken a controversial lead when Shota Arveladze appeared to impede goalkeeper Derek Stillie on the goal line as a Neil McCann cross entered the net.

Dunfermline equalised through Craig Brewster after the break, but Lorenzo Amoruso sent a blistering drive into the net to restore the lead and substitute Claudio Caniggia added a late third.

Rangers boss Alex McLeish made one change, Arveladze replacing Michael Mols up front, as he sought to take advantage of champions Celtic hosting Livingston on Sunday.

Neil McCann celebrates with Mikel Arteta
Rangers' Neil McCann (left) opened the scoring
Pars manager Jimmy Calderwood opted to start with all three of his new signings as he attempted to steer his side to their first victory against Rangers in 15 years.

Former Arsenal defender David Grondin made his debut, while striker Noel Hunt made his first start and midfielder Ged Brannon retained his place.

Calderwood brought Stevie Crawford into an unusual midfield role and the international striker shackled Scotland team-mate Barry Ferguson for much of a first-half when Rangers were uncharacteristically on the back foot.

Stefan Klos had to make a superb reaction save to turn a Brewster drive wide after Barry Nicholson had picked out the striker 12 yards out.

That was matched at the other end by Derek Stillie when a long ball from Lorenzo Amoruso sent Arveladze in the clear only for his low effort to be turned wide.

An injury to Ross ironically turned the game in Rangers' favour.

McLeish reverted to a 4-4-2 formation on the introduction of Bob Malcolm and it coincided with the first spell of Rangers pressure and the opening goal after 37 minutes.

Jason Dair challenges Rangers' Arthur Numan
Arthur Numan (right) fouled Noel Hunt
There was a touch of fortune about it as McCann gathered a short corner and the winger's cross sailed over the hands of Stillie as the goalkeeper was challenged on the line by Arveladze.

Dunfermline equalised four minutes after the break, when Brewster pounced to drive the ball into the far corner after Klos had blocked from Hunt.

That appeared to sting Rangers into another gear, but Dunfermline's cause was not helped by Numan sending his studs into the calf of Hunt, who was stretchered off to be replaced by Steven Hampshire.

Rangers eventually made their pressure tell when Mikel Arteta played a free kick into the path of Amoruso and the Italian's dipping thunderbolt of a drive flew into the back of the net from 20 yards.

Grondin spoiled a fine debut by losing Caniggia as the Argentine was found by a McCann cross to head home unchallenged in stoppage time.


Dunfermline: Stillie, MacPherson (Kilgannon 79), Skerla, Bullen, Grondin, Nicholson, Brannan, Dair (Karnebeek 72), Hunt (Hampshire 63), Brewster, Crawford.
Subs Not Used: Ruitenbeek, Dempsey.

Booked: Skerla, Karnebeek.

Goal: Brewster 49.

Rangers: Klos, Ross (Malcolm 33), Moore, Amoruso, Numan, Ricksen, Ferguson, Arteta (Caniggia 77), de Boer, Arveladze (Mols 84), McCann.
Subs Not Used: McGregor, Bonnissel.

Booked: Amoruso.

Goals: McCann 38, Amoruso 71, Caniggia 90.

Attendance: 8,754

Referee: H Dallas.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Rangers boss Alex McLeish
"A really tough battle"
Dunfermline manager Jimmy Calderwood
"3-1 probably flatters Rangers"
Rangers' Neil McCann
"We had to dig deep"
The SPL season gets under way

Weekend games

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