Football: Rangers wing in

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The Independent Online
Rangers 2

Van Bronckhorst 8, Kanchelskis 82

Aberdeen 1

Jess 56

Attendance: 49,479

ANDREI KANCHELSKIS rolled back the years yesterday to grab the winner for Rangers and confirm their position at the top of the Premier League. The Ukranian winger broke the hearts of the Aberdeen fans with a marvellous goal eight minutes from time.

Released by Barry Ferguson, Kanchelskis took the ball across the face of the area before rifling a shot under the body of the goalkeeper Jim Leighton. It was tough luck on Aberdeen who seemed to have secured a point when Eoin Jess cancelled out the opener from Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

It was a re-organised Rangers' defence that took to the field as the home side aimed to strengthen their bid for the Premier League title. With their captain Lorenzo Amoruso suspended, the Scotland Under-21 defender Scott Wilson returned to partner Scotland's captain, Colin Hendry. The Italian defender Sergio Porrini and midfielder Ferguson were also back in the starting line-up after missing the 7-0 defeat of St Johnstone on Sunday because of injuries.

Aberdeen, who ended a dismal run last weekend by defeating Dunfermline, were again without their injured defender Jamie Buchan. But Craig Hignett recovered from a knock and took his place in midfield.

The Uefa Cup contenders made the breakthrough after just eight minutes. The German midfielder Jorg Albertz released Van Bronckhorst in the penalty area and the Dutchman's finish was explosive, going beyond Leighton and into the corner.

The former Scotland international was forced to work overtime and made two marvellous saves in quick succession. He beat away a fierce effort from Jonatan Johansson then made a super block from Porrini as Rangers stepped up the pace.

Kanchelskis found the side-netting in the 28th minute after Albertz had delivered an inviting cross and then Leighton again came to the Dons rescue with a breathtaking save from Rod Wallace. Artur Numan should have added a second for Rangers, sending a shot from six yards over the top after Johansson had played the ball into his path.

Aberdeen were growing in confidence and a minute after Jess knocked a shot into the stands, Hignett skipped away from Hendry, only to see his effort come back off the bar.

The Rangers manager, Dick Advocaat, replaced Johansson at half-time with his new signing Stephane Guivarc'h, who had marked his debut with two goals in the defeat of St Johnstone. The Frenchman was soon into the thick of things and curled a 20-yard shot just wide before heading off-target following a cross from Albertz.

Rangers were rocked back on their heels in the 59th minute when Mike Newell sent a glorious ball into the path of Jess. He looked up and fired a stunning volley over Anti Niemi for the equaliser. He would have added a second a minute later but Numan made a timely block. But then came that wonderful, decisive strike from Kanchelskis.

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