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Saturday, 5 August, 2000, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
Dodds is Gers' hero again
Rangers 2-1 St Johnstone
Rangers continued to show signs of rustiness as the new league season got under way, and only two goals in two minutes by Billy Dodds ensured a win for the champions.
A bright, open start to the match saw both teams pushing forward in search of an early goal.
Rangers created more of the initial opportunities, clearly with a point to prove after a poor showing in their Champions League qualifier on Wednesday.
Jorg Albertz saw an early effort go wide, while Andrei Kanchelskis was causing St Johnstone problems with his menacing runs down the right wing.
A Paul Kane free kick was floated into the Rangers penalty area and when the home defence failed to clear its lines, the ball was hooked back by Nick Dasovic.
Graeme Jones' effort fell into the path of Alan Kernaghan and the big defender twisted in the air to volley the ball past the helpless Stefan Klos.
Rangers were yet to find any real fluency in their play, but Giovanni van Bronckhorst, fresh from an impressive Euro 2000 campaign, did his best to change things.
He skipped by two tackles to release Rod Wallace but the striker sent his effort wide of Alan Main's left-hand post.
The same player headed the ball strsight into Main's arms after Kanchelskis had picked him out with an accurate cross.
While the home side were doing most of the pressing, St Johnstone were playing some good, passing football with Paul Kane pulling the strings in midfield.
Having given Saints the lead, Kernaghan was almost responsible for a Rangers equaliser.
He conceded a free kick in a dangerous area and it required a good save by Alan Main to keep out Albertz's fierce shot.
With two minutes remaining in the first half, St Johnstone manufactured another good opportunity after good work by Jones.
He threaded the ball to John Paul McBride who in turn released Sylla.
His cross from the right was aimed at the run of Tommy Lovenkrands, but Fernando Ricksen just managed to clear the danger.
Jeers rang around Ibrox as the half-time whistle blew as the fans voiced their displeasure at the home team's performance.
Neil McCann replaced Tony Vidmar at the beginning of the second half as Rangers sought to break down the resilient Saints defence.
The game was transformed in the space of two minutes when midweek hero, Billy Dodds, first brought Rangers level and then put them ahead.
His first in 55 minutes came as the result of a pinpoint pass from Barry Ferguson and with a deft touch with the outside of his right boot, Dodds slotted the ball past Main.
Rangers' game immediately oozed confidence as St Johnstone heads seemed to drop.
Some excellent passing from Rangers was exemplified by a move which ended with a Barry Ferguson shot being blocked by the feet of Main.
The home side's dominance was almost complete and Dick Advocaat replaced Kanchelskis and Wallace with Claudio Reyna and Kenny Miller.
St Johnstone piled on some late pressure as they searched for an equaliser, a Paul Kane shot ricocheting off a Rangers defender.
But Rangers saw out the final minutes safely to record their first win of the new season.
Rangers: Klos, Ricksen, Amoruso, Konterman, Vidmar, Kanchelskis, Ferguson, van Bronckhorst, Albertz, Wallace, Dodds.
Subs: Reyna, McCann, Miller, Brown, Malcolm.
St Johnstone: Main, Bollan, Kernaghan, Weir, Sylla,
Lovenkrands, Dasovic, Kane, McBride, Parker, Jones.
Referee: D McDonald (Scotland).
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