Football: Fire of Ferguson

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The Independent Online
Dunfermline 0

Rangers 2

Johansson 12, Ferguson 49

Attendance: 11,507

BARRY FERGUSON may have the kind of slim frame which undermines his attempt to be taken seriously in a man's world, but the fresh-faced youngster is going to need broader shoulders if this kind of progress continues.

The Rangers playmaker will soon have the entire weight of his supporters' expectations resting upon him if he can produce the kind of goal with which he lit up East End Park.

A 50th-minute piece of unflawed beauty, ghosting past markers before hammering a left-foot shot high into the net, allowed Dick Advocaat's team to kill off the challenge of a gutsy Dunfermline side.

The most intriguing aspect of this encounter was the first-ever meeting of Rangers' gifted young playmaker with his older brother Derek, who once wore the blue shirt himself, but who joined Dunfermline during the summer.

Barry Ferguson did not take long in underlining why his stock has risen so dramatically, with a glorious pass in the second minute to pick out the run of Jonatan Johannson. The Finnish international's pace left Jamie Squires for dead, but Dunfermline's goalkeeper Lee Butler blocked his shot.

Johannson's speed has been the most eye-catching thing about his play since arriving at Rangers a year ago. Certainly, few had praised him for his deft touch, but the young Finn altered that impression with a glorious goal in the 12th minute.

The source, not surprisingly, was Jorg Albertz, who dispatched a measured pass between Dunfermline's static central defenders, allowing Johannson to race clear and then guide a cool finish beyond Butler from 18 yards.

Dunfermline looked to have cancelled that lead out within six minutes when Craig Ireland rose to power in a header from Derek Ferguson's free- kick, but Rangers' goalkeeper Lionel Charbonnier denied the tall defender with an excellent save.

The play degenerated into a scavenging for territorial advantage, although Tony Vidmar shook off the torpor just minutes before the interval when he cut inside and fired a right-foot shot which Butler stopped with his right hand.

Barry Ferguson gave the most vivid testimony as to the recent hype surrounding him five minutes after the interval. Sergio Porrini won the ball and fed Rod Wallace whose delightful flick released Ferguson whose confident finish will have Craig Brown pencilling in his name as a starter for the European Championship match with Estonia in a fortnight.

Five minutes later, Dunfermline appealed for a penalty after Scott McCulloch's shot was halted by Rino Gattuso, but not the Italian's hand, according to the referee.

Butler then defied Albertz's shot from the edge of the box. The Dunfermline youngster Richard Huxford then came close with two fierce shots but could not find a way past Charbonnier.

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