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Page last updated at 13:52 GMT, Sunday, 24 May 2009 14:52 UK

Dundee United 0-3 Rangers

By Andy Campbell

Rangers players celebrating
Captain David Weir and former skipper Barry Ferguson hold aloft the SPL trophy

Rangers clinched their first Scottish Premier League title since 2005 with a comfortable victory over Dundee United at Tannadice.

Kyle Lafferty converted Kris Boyd's cross to give Rangers an early lead.

Pedro Mendes' left-foot strike edged the visitors further ahead in first-half injury time.

Boyd's 31st goal of the season made sure of the win on 52 minutes as United missed out on a Europa League qualification place to Aberdeen.

Rangers' victory means they finish four points ahead of Celtic, who were held to a scoreless draw by Hearts.

The championship win, which guarantees direct entry into the group stages of next season's Champions League, is Walter Smith's first since returning to Rangers as manager in 2007 and his eighth over two spells as Ibrox boss.

Defeat for United, allied to Aberdeen's win over Hibernian, saw the Dons move into fourth place above the Tayside club.

The visitors, fielding an unchanged starting line-up from their last match, started the match at a frantic pace and were in front by the sixth minute.

Boyd received Steven Davis' pass, held off his marker and drove the ball across for Lafferty to turn into the net.

Rangers midfielder Pedro Mendes
Mendes shot through a ruck of players to find the net

Davis was causing United problems on the right and the midfielder's low cross was blazed over by Kenny Miller at the back post minutes later.

United composed themselves and Paul Dixon's whipped cross found David Robertson, whose downward header was claimed by Rangers goalkeeper Neil Alexander.

Rangers were on the back foot again when David Goodwillie worked the space to get a shot away but Sasa Papac made a timely block to avert the danger.

Another Dixon cross, this time from an inswinging corner, was grabbed by Alexander inches from the line as the home side continued to press.

Lafferty netted again in the 32nd minute but the offside flag had already been raised against Miller, who had crossed for the Northern Ireland international.

Boyd almost doubled Rangers' advantage seven minutes before half-time when he turned in the box and sent a powerful drive towards goal but Mihael Kovacevic got back to make a crucial goal-line clearance.

However, it was not long before the Ibrox club registered a second.

Darren Dods conceded a free-kick on the edge of the United box and, though Papac's initial effort was cleared, Mendes lashed the ball home with a stunning diagonal drive.

And Boyd all but confirmed the result as he despatched Steven Whittaker's low cross into the net at the end of a neat passing move.

Francisco Sandaza, a replacement for David Robertson, volleyed over as United looked for a quick reply.

The match descended to walking pace as Rangers sat on their lead and frustrated their hosts when they attacked.

Barry Ferguson, who was deposed as Rangers and Scotland captain in April was introduced as a substitute for Miller before Boyd's replacement Nacho Novo drew a save from goalkeeper Lukasz Zaluska, playing his last match for Dundee United ahead of a summer move to Celtic.

Garry Kenneth, who had earlier replaced Lee Wilkie, almost pulled one back for the home side with a volley which was tipped wide by Alexander.

And there was to be no consolation for the home side as Rangers held firm for their first win at Tannadice in over three years.


Rangers manager Walter Smith:
"It was a terrific performance. We had to produce one and I thought we were terrific here today.

"I felt at the stage in late December when we were well behind Celtic that we would lose out but we haven't and that's fantastic.

"I'm pleased for everybody, absolutely delighted. It's fantastic."

Dundee United manager Craig Levein:
"I'm gutted for everybody. The fact that we didn't get anything from the game doesn't change the fact that it was a great occasion, it was great to be involved in the match.

"The problem is that we didn't get what we set out to get and that was a European place. But there were 37 other matches to get one point.

"The good thing is that we have a lot of good young players and we will be better next year."


Dundee Utd: Zaluska, Kovacevic, Wilkie (Kenneth 54), Dods, Dixon, Caddis, Buaben, Gomis, Conway (Swanson 64), David Robertson (Sandaza 52), Goodwillie.
Subs Not Used: McGovern, Dillon, Grainger, Scott Robertson.

Booked: Wilkie, Buaben, Sandaza.

Rangers: Alexander, Whittaker, Weir, Bougherra, Papac, Davis, Mendes, Edu, Lafferty (McCulloch 82), Boyd (Novo 66), Miller (Ferguson 72).
Subs Not Used: McGregor, Naismith, Fleck, Wilson.

Booked: Weir, Papac.

Goals: Lafferty 6, Mendes 45, Boyd 52.

Rangers are champions

Att: 14,077

Ref: D McDonald


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Rangers' Kyle Lafferty 7.72 (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
Smith excited by European return
24 May 09 |  Rangers
Ferguson wants to stay at Rangers
24 May 09 |  Rangers
SPL as it happened
24 May 09 |  Scottish Premier
SPL photo gallery
24 May 09 |  Scottish Premier
Celtic 0-0 Hearts
24 May 09 |  Scottish Premier
Aberdeen 2-1 Hibernian
24 May 09 |  Scottish Premier


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