Dundee United 2 Rangers 1: Levein repeats the dose against lacklustre Rangers

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The Rangers manager, Walter Smith, refused to use his side's European exertions as an excuse for yesterday's SPL defeat to Dundee United.

The 2-1 reverse at Tannadice came five days after Rangers had held Barcelona to a goalless draw in the Champions League, but Smith insisted: "The European game had nothing to do with it. The players had plenty of time to recover from the game on Tuesday night."

Lee Wilkie opened the scoring for United in the first half, before Daniel Cousin restored parity from the penalty spot shortly after the break. But Rangers' joy lasted just three minutes before the hosts reclaimed their lead also through a penalty from Barry Robson.

Smith felt Rangers' performance, in the second half in particular, merited something. "In the second half we stepped up, applied some pressure and got back on level terms. Then we shot ourselves in the foot by giving away a penalty," he said.

Rangers have taken just one point from nine in their last three SPL games and just seven from a possible 15 on the road this term, allowing Celtic breathing space at the top of the table.

Craig Levein took over at Dundee United a year ago and was delighted to mark the anniversary with a victory over Rangers, 12 months after beginning his reign with a 2-1 win over the Ibrox club. "I am obviously pleased," he said. "The scoreline was the same as it was a year ago but today's result doesn't tell the real story – Rangers are a vastly improved team now and we needed to be too. The players did everything I asked of them and, in some cases, a little bit more."

Goals: Wilkie (28) 1-0; Cousin pen (51) 1-1; Robson pen (54) 2-1.

Dundee United: McLean, Dillon, Wilkie, Dods, Kalvenes, Flood, Bauben (Kerr 90), Gomis, Robson, Jordan Robertson, Hunt. Substitutes not used: Zaluska, Daly, Robb, Kenneth, Duff, Goodwillie.

Rangers: McGregor, Hutton, Weir, Cuellar, Papac, Beasley, Ferguson, Faye (Novo 46), Thomson, McCulloch, Cousin (Boyd 79). Substitutes not used: Carroll, Naismith, Whittaker, Lennon, Furman.

Referee: D McDonald.

Man of the match: Wilkie.

Attendance: 12, 129.