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Sunday, 1 October, 2000, 19:55 GMT 20:55 UK
Rangers blow away sad United
Craig Easton gets to grips with Ronald de Boer at Ibrox
Craig Easton gets to grips with Ronald de Boer at Ibrox
By Sport Online's Clive Lindsay

Rangers 3-0 Dundee United

Long-forgotten Marco Negri made a winning return to the Rangers side on a day that appeared to confirm that luck has truly deserted Dundee United.

There was to be no goal for the once-prolific Italian as he made his first appearance since April 1998 for the Scottish champions, with Andrei Kanchelskis, Jorg Albertz and Giovanni van Bronckhorst grabbing the glory.

However, it was United who have the biggest problem in that department, remaining the only side in Britain yet to score away from home.

Worse still, United left Ibrox worryingly detached at the foot of the Premier League table as Rangers claimed the victory that narrowed their gap with leaders Celtic to three points.

Promising start

United gave debuts to Argentinian striker Gustavo Fuentes and Honduran midfielder Marcelino Galoppo as they hoped to capitalise on any hangover Rangers might have suffered from their midweek Champions League defeat by Galatasaray.

However, despite a promising start, manager Alex Smith's plans were thrown into disarray by the loss of two influential players through injury and another with a red card, all in the first half.

Rangers manager Dick Advocaat was without striker Michael Mols, midfielder Barry Ferguson and goalkeeper Stefan Klos through injury, with 19-year-old Mark Brown taking over between the sticks.

Shooting boots

United almost took immediate advantage of the disruption, a cross from Stephane Leoni finding David Hannah in the box, but the midfielder's glancing header from 16 yards flew wide of the far post.

Rangers, though, showed they had their shooting boots on, Ronald de Boer stinging the hands of goalkeeper Alan Combe then Albertz flashing a long-ranger wide.

Marcelino Galoppo chases Giovanni van Bronckhorst
Marcelino Galoppo chases Giovanni van Bronckhorst
United were still acquiting themselves well, but then young defender David McCracken had to be withdrawn injured after only 17 minutes, to be replaced by Jean Licini.

Rangers were taking control, but United were still a threat.

Striker Mvondo Atangana had turned down the chance to be in Cameroon's Olympic gold-winning squad to play for United and it almost paid off when he put Craig Easton clear inside the box, but his stabbed shot was blocked by Brown.

His midfield partner, Hannah, then went down with a pulled muscle after half an hour, being replaced by the Greek, Anastasios Venetis, and, within two minutes, Rangers were ahead.

A Kanchelskis shot was deflected back into his path off team-mate Bert Konterman and the Russian international blasted the ball under Combe from a difficult angle.

Ruled offside

Despite the ferocity of the strike, the goalkeeper will surely have been disappointed to have been beaten at his near post.

A couple of minutes later, Negri turned another Kanchelskis shot into the net only to be ruled offside.

However, the second goal was only delayed until the 42nd minute, when an Albertz free-kick from 20 yards found a gap in the disintegrating defensive wall and powered past Combe.

Any hopes United had of a comeback ended on the stroke of half-time after Easton was red-carded for a late tackle with his studs on van Bronckhorst, completing a sorry weekend of sending offs in all six Premier League games.

Full stretch

The second-half was a procession towards the United goal, with Tugay, van Bronckhorst, Negri and substitute Billy Dodds all coming close.

However, it was van Bronckhorst who eventually added the third after 73 minutes, a 25-yard rocket bulging the net, as it had from the Dutchman in Turkey.

United almost broke their duck late on when an Hasney Aljofree free-kick from 25-yards was turned on to the post at full-stretch by Brown.

However, there was to be no consolation for the team that have not recorded a win in 15 league games.

Rangers: Brown, Ricksen, Konterman, Amoruso, Numan, Kanchelskis, Tugay, van Bronckhorst, Albertz, de Boer, Negri.

Subs: Dodds, Miller, Vidmar, Lovenkranes, Smith.

Dundee Utd: Combe, McQuillan, De Vos, McCracken, Leoni, Aljofree, Easton, Hannah, Galoppo, Fuentes, Atangana.

Subs: Onstad, Venetis, Thompson, Licini, Trialist.

Referee: J Rowbottom.

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