Football: Albertz turns on the power

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The Independent Online
Rangers 3

Albertz 33, pen 59, Mols 87

St Johnstone 1

Simao 61

Half-time: 1-0 Attendance: 47,145

MAYBE Dick Advocaat is a pyschologist beyond compare. His policy of keeping Jorg Albertz on the bench at the start of the season saw the burly German take out his frustrations on another victim yesterday.

After mugging Bayern Munich in midweek in his first start, Albertz thumped in two goals to subdue St Johnstone. Michael Mols finished off the day with a sublime 87th-minute goal, controlling Daruisz Adamczuk's pass on the run and sweeping a right-foot shot beyond St Johnstone's overworked keeper Alan Main to provide seven Scottish Premier League wins out of seven.

With both clubs facing tough European assignments next week, the contrast in philosophy was interesting. Rangers, who go to Holland on Tuesday to face PSV Eindhoven in the Champions' League, had rested Porrini, Amoruso and Reyna from the team which drew 1-1 with Bayern, allowing Adam-czuk, Colin Hendry and Andrei Kanchelskis rare starts.

St Johnstone have an even more daunting task, trying to recover a three- goal deficit against Monaco in the Uefa Cup, yet there was no time off for Sandy Clark's players.

Rangers camped in the visitors' half and were almost rewarded by an inventive chip by Barry Ferguson in the third minute after Kanchelskis fed him Giovanni van Bronckhorst's corner. The flight of the ball had Main scrambling backwards, but fortunately for the St Johnstone keeper the ball landed on the roof of the net. Then Kanchelskis squandered a glorious chance, heading over from just six yards.

That slack attitude seemed to seep through the Rangers team, and although Arthur Numan and Van Bronckhorst threatened, they remained in second gear. It took Albertz to crank things up a notch in the 32nd minute. He lost possession to Keith O'Halloran before regaining the ball and then thrashing a fierce left-foot shot past Main from 22 yards.

The Ibrox smiles, however, evaporated when the playmaker Ferguson limped off before half-time with a hamstring injury which seems certain to put him out of the match with PSV.

St Johnstone looked a different proposition once Miguel Simao began the second half in place of Kevin Thomas, and the mobile little Portuguese forward underlined that when he robbed Hendry and fired a shot which was deflected just over the bar.

However, Rangers remain merciless in pursuit of goals, even when cruising. They doubled their lead in the 58th minute when Mols' pass released Kanchelskis and the former Manchester United speed merchant proved too hot for John McQuillan to handle. The defender brought him down in the box and Albertz coolly swept home the spot-kick.

But Saints hit back within three minutes, as the substitute Kieran McAnespie flighted in a superb free-kick and Simao rose to guide a fierce header past Charbonnier.