Football: Laudrup delivers Rangers' ninth title

Dundee United 0 Rangers 1
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Brian Laudrup produced a special goal for a special occasion. The Danish striker, one of the most influential players throughout Rangers' recent run of success, scored the only goal last night to ensure a ninth successive League championship for the Glasgow club.

However, if the source of the winner was not unexpected the method of execution was. The Laudrup trademark is a powerful run with the ball at his feet, evading defenders en route to goal. This time, in the 10th minute, he used his head to good effect, throwing himself at Charlie Miller's cross from the left to power the ball into the top corner of the net.

If Rangers failed thereafter to add to that score there were more special moments in the 90 minutes, supplied mostly by Paul Gascoigne, Laudrup and on this occasion, Miller, who had been drafted into the midfield and produced an inspired performance.

Laudrup's early goal allowed Rangers a relatively tension-free night following their defeat by Motherwell on Monday. The visitors simply refused to allow a repeat of that result by taking control of the game.

In the 18th minute, Miller saw his volley from the edge of the penalty area saved by Sieb Dykstra, the United goalkeeper, who reacted well to push the ball over the bar.

Rangers should have scored again in the 22nd minute when Laudrup, set up by Miller, waltzed around Dykstra but saw his shot blocked by Erik Pedersen, who then thwarted a second effort from Gascoigne.

The Englishman saw his shot come back off a post in the second half, while Craig Moore headed wide from a Gascoigne free-kick. Then Miller's powerful shot crashed back into play off the crossbar.

United had a couple of brief flurries in which Andy Dibble saved from Steven Pressley and Gary McSwegan shot narrowly wide, but this was Rangers' night: their players and supporters knew it.

Those fans who had travelled to Tannadice Park filed out of the ground anticipating a 10th title this time next year and with players to come back from injury and others yet to be signed, few would bet against a repeat performance of the celebrations which will still be going on this morning throughout Scotland.

The night provided the chance for Richard Gough, the Rangers captain, to hold aloft the League trophy for the last time before heading for America and a career with Kansas City Whiz. Gough is one of only three players who can claim to have been present at all nine title celebrations and although a spectator on the night, he more than most will have appreciated and recognised the level of Rangers' achievement.

In winning a ninth title they have equalled Celtic's unbroken run under the late Jock Stein from 1966 to 1974. Unless Celtic, who played out a goalless draw against Kilmarnock last night, can provide a concerted challenge next season, that record will surely be surpassed.

Dundee United (3-5-2): Dykstra; Pressley, McKimmie, Perry; Pedersen, McInally, Zetterlund ( Dolan 68), McKinnon, McLaren (Winters, 75); McSwegan, Olafsson. Substitute not used: Black.

Rangers (3-5-2): Dibble; Petric, McLaren, Bjorklund; Cleland, Moore, Gascoigne (McInnes, 89), Miller, Robertson; Durie, Laudrup (McCoist, 89). Substitute not used: Albertz.

Referee: S Dougal (Burnside).

Last night's football, page 27