Football: Rangers victory marred by injury to talisman

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Rangers 1

Hibernian 0

Rangers moved to within a point of league leaders Hearts thanks to a Marco Negri goal five minutes after the interval yesterday. Yet if this game proves to have an impact on the title race it is as likely to do so because of an injury to Negri as the three points he achieved.

The Italian striker who scored his 30th goal in 23 games for the champions was taken away on a stretcher seven minutes from the end following a tangle with Darren Dods and the long-term diagnosis could have a serious effect on Rangers' season.

With Paul Gascoigne suspended for another three games Walter Smith will hope Negri recovers quickly especially as the evidence suggested there is a lack of creativity about Rangers when the Englishman is missing.

In addition, Brian Laudrup was out because of injury and so in the first half Rangers had difficulty creating anything. Hibs worked hard to deny the home side space and by half-time Chris Reid, who had been recalled to the goalkeeping position, had little to deal until called upon to save well from Rino Gattuso in the 44th minute.

The goal which settled the points was a scrappy affair. Rangers were awarded a penalty when Negri was impeded on the point of shooting and even then Negri who took the kick himself saw Reid produce a fine save. Negri followed up but his shot was deflected on to the crossbar back to the Italian who touched the ball into the net.

Goal: Negri (50) 1-0.

Rangers (4-4-2): Goram; Cleland, Gough, Bjorklund, Stensaas; Gattuso (Ferguson, 78), Thern, McCall, Albertz; Negri (Durrant, 81), Durie.

Hibernian (4-4-2): Reid; Boco (Renwick, 86), Dods, Hughes, Dow; Rougier (Miller, 81), McGinlay, Charnley, Jackson; Crawford, Harper.

Referee: K. Clark (Paisley).

Bookings: Rangers: Gattuso, Durie, Cleland

Hibernian: Charnley, Dods, McGinlay.

Man of the match: Gattuso.

Attendance: 48,070.

n The Celtic coach, Wim Jansen, was critical of his side after they disappointed in Saturday's goalless draw with Kilmarnock, which left them seven points adrift of leaders Hearts. "If we want to go top we can't afford to miss out on games like this," he said. "After last Sunday it was very difficult to bring them back to earth. We didn't have the sharpness required to win this game."