Football: Laudrup and clear

Rangers 2 Porrini 9, Laudrup 12 Aberdeen 0 Attendance: 49, 502
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The Independent Online
RANGERS recovered some of the poise and momentum squandered in the Old Firm derby defeat to Celtic largely because of the efforts of a man born far away from the hotbed of football that is inner-city Glasgow. The Dane Brian Laudrup commanded centre stage at Ibrox yesterday, having a hand in one goal and scoring the other as Aberdeen's challenge was snuffed out inside a dozen minutes. To complete the Dons' misery Ilian Kiriakov was sent off in the 75th minute for his second bookable offence.

Laudrup's display was all the more welcome for Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, as Marco Negri, the club's 33-goal top scorer, was ruled out with an eye injury while Paul Gascoigne had to settle for a place on the bench after a bout of flu. The Italian striker Negri had been sidelined after being hit by a squash ball during a match with his team-mate Sergio Porrini.

Any guilt that the central defender Porrini must have felt about the accident was soon laid to rest as he put the home side ahead after nine minutes. Laudrup started the move, releasing Alex Cleland down the left. The full-back's cross was precise and Porrini stole in to volley home from 12 yards.

Aberdeen, looking for their first league win in 12 attempts against the champions, gave a debut to Northern Ireland midfielder Michael O'Neill following his three-month loan deal from Coventry. But it was a torrid start for the former Hibernian star with Rangers adding a second goal after just 12 minutes. Laudrup carved a path through the Aberdeen defence to release a 25-yard shot that left the goalkeeper Jim Leighton helpless.

Gordon Durie could have netted a hat-trick for Rangers before half- time and Laudrup almost added a third in the second half when his shot come back off the post. It was only the sterling resistance afforded by Leighton between the visitors' posts that prevented a comfortable victory from becoming a rout.