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Page last updated at 15:55 GMT, Saturday, 15 August 2009 16:55 UK

Rangers   4 - 1   Falkirk

By Keir Murray

Rangers striker Kenny Miller celebrates his goal
Rangers striker Kenny Miller celebrates his first of two goals at Ibrox

A Lee McCulloch thunderbolt, a Kenny Miller double and a Steven Naismith goal gave Rangers the points at Ibrox against Falkirk on flag day.

McCulloch opened the scoring with a long-range shot into the top corner, then Carl Finnigan levelled with a sublime flick from close range.

Kenny Miller got on the end of Steven Davis' intelligent cross to head Rangers into a 2-1 half-time lead.

A Miller solo run and shot and a neat finish by Naismith completed the goals.

Rangers boss Walter Smith gave goalkeeper Allan McGregor his first start since his demotion from the first team last season for unprofessional behaviour when with the Scotland squad.

Neil Alexander was on the bench.

Marc Twaddle, Brian McLean, Ryan Flynn and Vitor Lima were handed debuts by new Falkirk boss Eddie May.

Flynn almost opened the scoring with a curling right-foot shot after 11 minutes but found McGregor alert to the danger, while fellow new boy Lima lasted just 18 minutes before being replaced by Alex MacDonald.

The home side took the lead in spectacular style in 14 minutes, McCulloch first going to ground to win the ball with a tenacious tackle, then rifling in a 25-yard shot into the top corner of the net.

Boyd tested Bairns keeper Robert Olejnik with a curling shot from the edge of the box, but was unable to double the lead.

Finnigan levelled matters after 24 minutes, taking Burton O'Brien's low cross from the left and executing a delightful flick into the net from eight yards.

Predictably, Rangers enjoyed the greater possession thereafter in the first half, peppering the area around Olejnik's goal with shots and looking for a chink in the Bairns' armour.

But May's side, like John Hughes' Falkirk side before him, were keen to get the ball down and play their passing game, and with Finnigan, O'Brien and Scott Arfield they had players with the ability to trouble David Weir and Madjid Bougherra at the back.

Naismith and Fleck combined in a slick move to provide Miller with a scoring chance after 33 minutes but the Scotland striker, closed down immediately, twisted his shot inches wide of Olejnik's left-hand post.

But just a minute later, Davis, ever alert, clipped a cross over the static Falkirk back line and this time Miller made no mistake, thumping a header high over the Falkirk goalkeeper.

Olejnik kept Falkirk in the game on the stroke of half-time, first rushing out to thwart Steven Naismith then springing to his feet and parry the follow-up shot from Kris Boyd.

Falkirk's Carl Finnigan celebrates with Tam Scobbie
Falkirk's Carl Finnigan celebrates his skilful finish with Tam Scobbie

May's team talk engendered vigour in Falkirk's play at the start of the second half, with Weir called upon to clear a dangerous Flynn cross, then former Ranger Brian McLean thundering a right-footed 25-yard shot at McGregor.

As the second period progressed, Rangers' lead looked increasingly fragile as each passage of Falkirk play bred confidence in their ranks.

This was typified by Danijel Marceta, on as a substitute for Thomas Scobbie, who tested McGregor with a long-range shot.

Miller's second goal of the game was the result of his pace, drive and appetite to get on the scoresheet.

Picking up the ball in a central position and detecting a lack of movement among his team-mates in more advanced positions along the 18-yard line, he opted to go solo.

No Falkirk defender could match his run and his left-footed angled shot from 10 yards out was met with a roar of relief from the Ibrox faithful.

Kevin Thomson continued his recovery from a serious knee injury by coming on as a late substitution for Boyd, and five minutes later Naismith outpaced Jackie McNamara to slip the ball under the despairing Olejnik.

In injury time Miller had the chance to secure a hat-trick but his close-range shot was blocked by a throng of Falkirk defenders hovering around their goal line.

Despite the final scoreline, May will surely have taken heart from the performance of his midfield.

As in previous seasons, if Falkirk can find their goalscoring touch they should be well clear of any relegation battle come May.


Rangers manager Walter Smith: "We had some decent spells in the game and we also had some awkward spells.

"After the break, I thought Falkirk were the better side. They played the ball around and had us pushed back.

"Obviously we were delighted when Kenny Miller got the third goal. In general play, overall it wasn't the smoothest of performances."

On choosing Allan McGregor over Neil Alexander in goals:

"That was an awkward managerial decision. Neil Alexander has come in on a number of occasions and played exceptionally well for us.

"Whichever goalie plays for us knows he has to play well to keep his position and that is a good one for the club."

Falkirk manager Eddie May: "They're a quality team, champions of Scotland and rightfully so.

"Hopefully people will see that we came here today and we didn't sit back. We tried to play an open game. Unfortunately we lost a couple of goals at the end.

"I don't think there was 4-1 in it. Going forward I thought we were decent.

"We've had a few people enquiring about Scott Arfield this week. We have to generate money through sales of talented players and Scott is one of them."


Live text and stats

 

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Scottish Premier

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Rangers 4-1 Falkirk FT
(HT 2-1)
  • McCulloch 14
  • Miller 34
  • Miller 72
  • Naismith 83
  • Finnigan 24

Rangers

  • 01 McGregor
  • 03 Weir
  • 16 Whittaker yellow card
  • 26 Smith
  • 06 McCulloch yellow card
  • 07 Davis
  • 24 Bougherra
  • 09 Boyd (Thomson 77)
  • 14 Naismith
  • 18 Miller yellow card
  • 29 Fleck

Substitutes

  • 25 Alexander,
  • 66 Wilson,
  • 08 Thomson,
  • 19 Niguez,
  • 20 Beasley,
  • 67 Neff,
  • 48 Little

Falkirk

  • 01 Olejnik
  • 02 Barr
  • 03 Scobbie (Danijel Marceta 46)
  • 05 McNamara yellow card
  • 06 McLean
  • 04 Twaddle
  • 08 O'Brien
  • 10 Arfield
  • 11 Flynn (Mitchell 85)
  • 23 Lima (MacDonald 18)
  • 09 Finnigan

Substitutes

  • 29 Wagenaar,
  • 18 Allison,
  • 14 Mitchell,
  • 19 Lynch,
  • 21 MacDonald,
  • 16 Robertson,
  • 22 Danijel Marceta
Ref: TumiltyAtt: 50,239
RANGERS
FALKIRK

Possession

  • Rangers 53%
  • Falkirk 47%

Attempts on target

  • Rangers 14
  • Falkirk 8

Attempts off target

  • Rangers 6
  • Falkirk 4

Corners

  • Rangers 7
  • Falkirk 5

Fouls

  • Rangers 7
  • Falkirk 13
  • Final Result
  • Full Time
  • 90:00+2:12 The referee blows for the end of the match.
  • 90:00+1:51 Kenny Miller takes a shot. Blocked by Brian McLean.
  • 90:00+1:34 Lee McCulloch fouled by Carl Finnigan, the ref awards a free kick. Kevin Thomson restarts play with the free kick.
  • 89:55 Outswinging corner taken by Kevin Thomson. Steven Whittaker takes a shot. Blocked by Jackie McNamara.
  • 89:16 John Fleck takes a inswinging corner.
  • 89:04 Steven Naismith takes a shot. Marc Twaddle gets a block in.
  • 88:17 Steven Smith fouled by Scott Arfield, the ref awards a free kick. David Weir restarts play with the free kick.
  • 87:20 Free kick awarded for a foul by Scott Arfield on Steven Naismith. Free kick taken by Steven Smith.
  • 86:31 Danijel Marceta crosses the ball, save by Allan McGregor.
  • 84:42 Substitution (Falkirk) makes a substitution, with Chris Mitchell coming on for Ryan Flynn.
  • 84:15 Long distance effort on goal by Kevin Thomson goes wide left of the target.
  • 82:32 The assist for the goal came from Kenny Miller.
  • 82:32 GOAL - Steven NaismithRangers 4 - 1 Falkirk Steven Naismith finds the back of the net with a goal from the edge of the area low into the middle of the goal. Rangers 4-1 Falkirk.
  • 81:47 Direct free kick taken by Jackie McNamara.
  • 81:47 Booking The referee books Steven Whittaker for unsporting behaviour.
  • 81:40 Steven Whittaker concedes a free kick for a foul on Danijel Marceta.
  • 81:07 Danijel Marceta sends in a cross, David Weir makes a clearance.
  • 78:34 John Fleck takes a shot. Save made by Robert Olejnik.
  • 76:48 Madjid Bougherra takes the indirect free kick.
  • 76:48 Substitution (Rangers) makes a substitution, with Kevin Thomson coming on for Kris Boyd.
  • 76:48 The assistant referee signals for offside against Alex MacDonald.
  • 74:30 Kris Boyd produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the right of the target.
  • 73:27 Effort on goal by Scott Arfield from long range goes over the bar.
  • 71:54 Assist by Kris Boyd.
  • 71:54 GOAL - Kenny MillerRangers 3 - 1 Falkirk Kenny Miller grabs a goal from close in high into the middle of the goal. Rangers 3-1 Falkirk.
  • 71:13 Danijel Marceta takes a shot. Save made by Allan McGregor.
  • 70:50 Centre by Steven Whittaker, Kris Boyd takes a shot. Save by Robert Olejnik.
  • 70:41 John Fleck sends in a cross, Jackie McNamara makes a clearance.
  • 67:35 Jackie McNamara crosses the ball in from the free kick, clearance by Brian McLean.
  • 67:35 Booking Kenny Miller goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.
  • 67:25 Foul by Kenny Miller on Scott Arfield, free kick awarded.
  • 65:47 Effort from just outside the area by Burton O'Brien goes over the bar.
  • 64:50 The official flags Steven Smith offside. Robert Olejnik takes the free kick.
  • 62:03 Close range shot by Steven Davis goes wide of the right-hand upright.
  • 60:32 Centre by John Fleck, Marc Twaddle manages to make a clearance.
  • 59:16 Inswinging corner taken by Scott Arfield, Allan McGregor fouled by Marc Twaddle, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Allan McGregor.
  • 59:06 The ball is swung over by Ryan Flynn, blocked by Steven Whittaker.
  • 57:08 Corner taken left-footed by Burton O'Brien, Headed effort from close range by Alex MacDonald goes wide left of the target.
  • 56:28 Brian McLean concedes a free kick for a foul on Kris Boyd. Free kick taken by Steven Davis.
  • 55:58 Danijel Marceta crosses the ball.
  • 55:44 Danijel Marceta takes a shot. Blocked by Madjid Bougherra.
  • 55:05 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on John Fleck by Carl Finnigan. Steven Smith restarts play with the free kick.
  • 54:39 Shot by Steven Whittaker from just outside the area goes over the net.
  • 53:42 Alex MacDonald takes a shot. Save made by Allan McGregor.
  • 52:37 The referee blows for offside against Alex MacDonald. Madjid Bougherra restarts play with the free kick.
  • 50:03 Burton O'Brien takes a shot. Blocked by Lee McCulloch.
  • 47:44 Kris Boyd gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ryan Flynn. Jackie McNamara restarts play with the free kick.
  • 47:11 Brian McLean takes a shot. Allan McGregor makes a save.
  • 46:43 The ball is swung over by Ryan Flynn, David Weir manages to make a clearance.
  • 45:22 Alex MacDonald takes a shot. Save made by Allan McGregor.
  • 45:01 The referee blows his whistle to start the second half.
  • 45:01 Substitution (Falkirk) makes a substitution, with Danijel Marceta coming on for Thomas Scobbie.
  • Half Time
  • 45:00+1:35 The whistle is blown to end the first half.
  • 44:41 Kris Boyd takes a shot. Save by Robert Olejnik.
  • 42:44 The official flags John Fleck offside. Robert Olejnik restarts play with the free kick.
  • 42:30 Corner taken short by John Fleck.
  • 41:21 Unfair challenge on Steven Whittaker by Scott Arfield results in a free kick. Shot on goal comes in from Steven Smith from the free kick.
  • 38:04 Steven Smith delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left channel.
  • 38:04 Booking Jackie McNamara is booked.
  • 37:56 Jackie McNamara challenges John Fleck unfairly and gives away a free kick.
  • 36:34 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Scott Arfield from the left by-line to the near post, clearance made by Steven Naismith.
  • 36:27 The ball is swung over by Alex MacDonald, Madjid Bougherra manages to make a clearance.
  • 35:18 The ball is swung over by Steven Smith, clearance made by Thomas Scobbie.
  • 33:50 Steven Davis provided the assist for the goal.
  • 33:50 GOAL - Kenny MillerRangers 2 - 1 Falkirk Kenny Miller grabs a headed goal from close range. Rangers 2-1 Falkirk.
  • 33:47 Steven Davis crosses the ball,
  • 33:17 Carl Finnigan challenges Lee McCulloch unfairly and gives away a free kick. Lee McCulloch takes the free kick.
  • 32:47 Kenny Miller has an effort at goal from the edge of the area that misses to the right of the target.
  • 31:06 The ball is delivered by Madjid Bougherra.
  • 30:50 Outswinging corner taken left-footed by John Fleck, clearance made by Brian McLean.
  • 30:43 Steven Whittaker delivers the ball, clearance by Darren Barr.
  • 30:16 Centre by John Fleck, clearance by Brian McLean.
  • 29:30 Corner taken by John Fleck from the right by-line to the near post, clearance by Marc Twaddle.
  • 28:32 Effort on goal by John Fleck from outside the box goes harmlessly over the bar.
  • 27:17 The ball is sent over by Steven Whittaker.
  • 27:06 The ball is swung over by Steven Whittaker.
  • 26:15 Foul by Carl Finnigan on Madjid Bougherra, free kick awarded. Madjid Bougherra takes the direct free kick.
  • 25:22 Darren Barr sends in a cross, Steven Davis manages to make a clearance.
  • 23:28 Burton O'Brien provided the assist for the goal.
  • 23:28 GOAL - Carl FinniganRangers 1 - 1 Falkirk Goal scored by Carl Finnigan from close in to the bottom right corner of the goal. Rangers 1-1 Falkirk.
  • 23:24 Burton O'Brien sends in a cross,
  • 22:57 The ball is sent over by Ryan Flynn, clearance by Steven Whittaker.
  • 21:03 Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by John Fleck, clearance made by Marc Twaddle.
  • 20:55 The ball is delivered by Kenny Miller, clearance by Darren Barr.
  • 18:18 Kris Boyd takes a shot. Save by Robert Olejnik.
  • 17:54 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Lee McCulloch by Ryan Flynn. Lee McCulloch takes the direct free kick.
  • 17:23 Substitution Vitor Lima leaves the field to be replaced by Alex MacDonald.
  • 17:07 The ball is crossed by Jackie McNamara, clearance made by David Weir.
  • 16:47 The ball is crossed by Darren Barr, clearance made by David Weir.
  • 16:34 Direct free kick taken by Marc Twaddle.
  • 16:34 Booking Lee McCulloch receives a yellow card.
  • 16:00 Unfair challenge on Burton O'Brien by Lee McCulloch results in a free kick.
  • 15:18 Burton O'Brien produces a cross, clearance made by Steven Naismith.
  • 14:57 Scott Arfield takes a inswinging corner to the near post, clearance made by Steven Naismith.
  • 14:49 Scott Arfield sends in a cross, Steven Whittaker manages to make a clearance.
  • 14:33 Centre by Thomas Scobbie, Madjid Bougherra manages to make a clearance.
  • 13:24 GOAL - Lee McCullochRangers 1 - 0 Falkirk Lee McCulloch finds the net with a goal from a long way out to the top left corner of the goal. Rangers 1-0 Falkirk.
  • 12:23 Steven Naismith produces a cross.
  • 11:38 Scott Arfield is caught offside. Allan McGregor restarts play with the free kick.
  • 10:48 Ryan Flynn takes a shot. Allan McGregor makes a save.
  • 9:40 Corner taken by Burton O'Brien from the right by-line, Lee McCulloch makes a clearance.
  • 9:32 Carl Finnigan sends in a cross, blocked by David Weir.
  • 9:13 Foul by Lee McCulloch on Carl Finnigan, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Brian McLean.
  • 8:00 Inswinging corner taken by Steven Naismith, Marc Twaddle makes a clearance.
  • 7:44 Kenny Miller takes a shot. Brian McLean gets a block in.
  • 7:32 John Fleck takes a shot. Blocked by Jackie McNamara.
  • 7:23 Kenny Miller produces a cross, Marc Twaddle manages to make a clearance.
  • 6:33 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Lee McCulloch by Carl Finnigan. David Weir restarts play with the free kick.
  • 6:15 The ball is sent over by Carl Finnigan, Madjid Bougherra makes a clearance.
  • 5:54 Scott Arfield sends in a cross, clearance made by David Weir.
  • 4:13 The official flags Kenny Miller offside. Free kick taken by Robert Olejnik.
  • 3:19 Ryan Flynn fouled by Steven Naismith, the ref awards a free kick. Vitor Lima crosses the ball, Darren Barr produces a header from deep inside the six-yard box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
  • 2:48 Thomas Scobbie crosses the ball, clearance by David Weir.
  • 1:52 Steven Whittaker challenges Thomas Scobbie unfairly and gives away a free kick. Vitor Lima crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from left wing.
  • 0:47 Steven Smith crosses the ball.
  • 0:12 Scott Arfield challenges Lee McCulloch unfairly and gives away a free kick. Madjid Bougherra takes the free kick.
  • 0:00 The ref blows the whistle to start the match.

Live text and data provided by The Press Association.



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Scottish Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 15 Aug 2009 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Rangers 1 3 3
2 Kilmarnock 1 3 3
3 Celtic 1 2 3
4 Hibernian 1 1 3
5 Motherwell 1 0 1
6 St Johnstone 1 0 1
7 Dundee Utd 0 0 0
8 Hearts 0 0 0
9 St Mirren 1 -1 0
10 Aberdeen 1 -2 0
11 Falkirk 1 -3 0
12 Hamilton 1 -3 0

Scottish Premier League results

15 Aug 2009 23:59 UK

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Aberdeen 1-3 Celtic R
Hibernian 2-1 St Mirren R
Kilmarnock 3-0 Hamilton R
Rangers 4-1 Falkirk R
St Johnstone 2-2 Motherwell R


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