Caniggia the catalyst in Rangers romp

Debutants make big impact for Advocaat's cause
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The Independent Online

Rangers' close-season investment in new players may have been frugal in comparison to recent summers, but Dick Advocaat got value for money as each of his summer recruits scored in the 3-0 defeat of Aberdeen which launched their Scottish Premier League campaign at Pittodrie yesterday.

Christian Nerlinger, Russell Latapy and Claudio Caniggia only amounted to £3.8m between them, but the trio provided a priceless start for the deposed champions. Pittodrie had threatened to provide an awkward test for Rangers, whose confidence was shredded last season after trailing Celtic home by 15 points. But after a battling first half, Advocaat's side took command after the interval.

Nerlinger broke the deadlock in the 54th minute when he profited from a wonderful piece of skill by Caniggia. Claudio Reyna had cut in from the right and rolled a pass to Caniggia, who deftly flicked it into Nerlinger's path and the German international drilled his shot past the Aberdeen goalkeeper David Preece.

In the 69th minute Caniggia's driving run was halted unfairly by the Aberdeen debutant Roberto Bisconti, and Latapy coolly sent Preece the wrong way with his penalty. Caniggia then finished the scoring after 72 minutes, when he was picked out by Kenny Miller and arrogantly stroked the ball.

Hibernian, who finished third last term, began with a 2-2 draw at home to their fellow Uefa Cup entrants, Kilmarnock, following Ulrik Laursen's 83rd-minute header from a David Zitelli corner. Kilmarnock had gone ahead after just three minutes through their new signing Michael Ngonge, who escaped from Franck Sauzee and curled a shot past Nick Colgan. Sauzee repaired the damage by thrashing in a 35th-minute penalty, but Kilmarnock regained the advantage in first-half injury time when Christophe Cocard shot past Colgan from close range.

A pulsating derby in front of a sell-out 14,000 crowd at Tannadice saw Dundee United take a share of the points from their city rivals Dundee after Jim Hamilton's header three minutes into injury time. Charlie Miller had put United in front after 31 minutes after missing an earlier penalty, but Dundee responded within two minutes as last season's top scorer Juan Sara netted a low right-foot shot and then Gavin Rae provided a 55th-minute lead from Sara's set-up.

The Dutch striker Jack de Gier marked his Dunfermline debut with two goals in the 5-2 hammering of Motherwell, for whom the well-travelled striker David Kelly briefly restored parity with a penalty. The Scotland international Barry Nicholson also struck twice for the home side. But the real plaudits go to Livingston, who showed no stage fright in their first ever SPL game, as they dumped Hearts with a 2-1 win at Almondvale Stadium. The newly promoted side went in front with a 34th-minute side-foot shot from Quino, before the the architect of that goal, David Fernandez, embarked on a solo run on 62 minutes which saw his left-foot strike fly past Antti Niemi from the edge of the box.

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