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Thursday, 29 June, 2000, 21:39 GMT
Rangers in a league of their own
Rangers celebrate their second consecutive championship
Rangers' statistics for the season 1999/2000 speak for themselves.

They were 21 points clear at the top of the SPL after 36 matches; Scottish Cup winners in May, the best defensive record in Scotland; three players in the top four SPL goalscorers; and only two league defeats all season.

Throw in a commendable performance in the Champions League, along with a 26-game unbeaten run from December to May, and you have one of the most impressive records in the history of Scottish football.

Under Dutchman Dick Advocaat, the club's domination of the SPL entered its second successive year after a brief hiatus in 1998 when Celtic ended their hopes of clinching a record-breaking 10 league titles in a row.

Close fought

The double-winning season kicked off back in August '99 with a 4-1 victory over FC Haka in the preliminary rounds of the Champions League, followed by a 3-0 hammering in the return leg at Ibrox.

The Gers' winning streak continued until Parma notched up a close-fought win a month later but failed to halt Rangers' progression into the next phase of Europe's premier club tournament.

However, the European dream was ultimately denied, following a struggle against finalists Valencia coupled with failure to overturn a home draw against Bayern Munich during the away leg in Germany.

Arthur Numan
Arthur Numan holds the Scottish Cup aloft
The biggest blow of the season also arrived at the Olympic Stadium, when Dutch striker Michael Mols was taken to hospital with ligament damage, effectively ending his season and threatening his career.

The appetite for European silverware was further diminished by an abysmal Uefa Cup penalty shoot-out in Dortmund, during which skipper Lorenzo Amoruso was captured on television shouting a racist remark at Dortmund's Victor Ikpeba.

The challenge of retaining the league title and defending the Scottish Cup soon beckoned, having been dumped out of the CIS Cup on 1 December, thanks to an injury-time goal from a flagging Aberdeen.

Plain sailing

From then on, it was plain sailing, including three victories over arch-rivals Celtic and a 7-1 revenge defeat against Dundee - the Dark Blues had grabbed three points at Ibrox back in November.

With the title mopped up by April, the champions played out their last five games with the same determination that had secured the title, losing out only to Motherwell in the final game of the season.

However, they bounced straight back in a low-key Scottish Cup final to knock four goals past Jim Leighton's unconventional goalkeeping replacement Robbie Winters.

Chairman David Murray continues to spend, and with names like Fernando Ricksen, Bert Konterman and Allan Johnston already in the squad for next season, the words 'Rangers' and 'Champions' could be difficult to separate.

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