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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 August 2007, 13:23 GMT 14:23 UK
Inverness CT 0-3 Rangers

By Clive Lindsay

Lee McCulloch and Barry Ferguson celebrate in Inverness
Barry Ferguson (right) scored twice for Rangers in Inverness
Barry Ferguson scored twice as Rangers got their championship challenge off to a fine start by cruising to victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Ferguson put Walter Smith's new-look side in the driving seat by hammering the opener in off the post from 20 yards after 16 minutes.

A Kris Boyd effort struck the crossbar before the striker went off injured.

Replacement Nacho Novo blasted home the second after 64 minutes and Ferguson chipped in a late third.

Caley Thistle, who had given Rangers problems last season, rarely threatened in front of a record crowd of 7,700 at Caledonian Stadium.

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Their cause had not been helped by having to start without new signing Marius Niculae, who has been refused a work permit, and the injured Graham Bayne.

It meant that, with last year's top scorer, Craig Dargo, having moved to St Mirren, Rory McAllister partnered Dennis Wyness up front.

Rangers made two changes from the side that defeated Zeta in the Champions League, with Kevin Thomson and DaMarcus Beasley replacing Charlie Adam and the injured Jean-Claude Darcheville.

And Beasley, making his competitive debut for Rangers, was presented with the game's first chance by a Barry Ferguson through ball.

The American's pace took him clear of the Caley Thistle defence, but goalkeeper Michael Fraser raced off his line to block.

Rangers striker Kris Boyd picked up the first booking after just 11 minutes for a nasty challenge on Ian Black and there was more pain for Inverness five minutes later.

Michael Fraser denies new Rangers signing DaMarcus Beasley
Michael Fraser denied new Rangers signing DaMarcus Beasley

A long ball from goalkeeper Allan McGregor was touched into the path of Ferguson by Lee McCulloch and the Rangers captain sent a superb left-footed volley in off the post from 20 yards.

It was almost 2-0 when Ferguson put Boyd clear, but the striker's shot took a touch off Fraser, bounced off the ground, struck the underside of the crossbar and somehow spun wide of the post.

A Carlos Cuellar snap shot squirmed towards goal and would have gone in if it had not been for a good low save by Fraser.

Ferguson was again the provider to set up Beasley, who shot straight at Fraser from the left-hand corner of the penalty box with Boyd waiting unmarked in the centre.

Boyd hobbled off early in the second half after failing to recover from a twisted ankle suffered in the opening 45 minutes and Nacho Novo took his place up front.

And the substitute blasted home the second goal from 16 yards after being set up by McCulloch.

Rangers appeared happy to see out the game until Ferguson pounced on a slack back header by Ross Tokely in the dying seconds.


Inverness CT: Fraser, Tokely, McCaffrey, Munro, Hastings, McBain (Hart 70), Wilson, Black, McAllister (Cowie 62), Wyness, Rankin (McDonald 77).
Subs Not Used: Ridgers, Morgan, Duncan, Sutherland.

Booked: Tokely.

Rangers: McGregor, Hutton, Cuellar, Weir, Papac, Thomson, Ferguson, Hemdani, McCulloch, Boyd (Novo 49), Beasley.
Subs Not Used: Carroll, Broadfoot, Darcheville, Lennon, Kinniburgh, McMillan.

Booked: Boyd, Hemdani.

Goals: Ferguson 16, Novo 64, Ferguson 90.

Att: 7,711

Ref: K Clarke

SEE ALSO
BBC Scotland match report
04 Aug 07 |  Scotland
Rangers facing probe over chants
04 Aug 07 |  Rangers
Christie hits out at beaten side
04 Aug 07 |  Inverness CT
Smith not content with first win
04 Aug 07 |  Rangers


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