Ferguson strike eases pressure on Rangers

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The Independent Football

All talk of a crisis at Ibrox is postponed, for now at least, after Barry Ferguson led by example and celebrated his new-found captaincy by scoring one of the goals which took Rangers into the semi-finals of the CIS Cup.

All talk of a crisis at Ibrox is postponed, for now at least, after Barry Ferguson led by example and celebrated his new-found captaincy by scoring one of the goals which took Rangers into the semi-finals of the CIS Cup.

Given the armband in place of Lorenzo Amoruso, Ferguson netted a sublime second goal which killed off Dundee United after Kenny Miller's equally fine opener. However, Monaco, who visit here next week, will be a different proposition.

Fortress Ibrox had been stripped of its menacing air by Kilmarnock's impudent performance here three days earlier, but while a first home defeat in 20 games can be explained away, a defeat by the poorest team in the Scottish Premiership could not.

However, from the moment Miller found the net in the 11th minute, Ibrox visibly relaxed. The young striker, earning a rare start, outpaced Jim Lauchlan after Tugay had fashioned a fine pass. The finish, on the run, was a clinical one.

With the pressure lifted, Rangers began to unveil a procession of attacks, mostly prompted by Neil McCann. They stretched their lead further in the 30th minute when Ferguson chested down a headed clearance, gave the ball to Tugay who returned it to the Scotland midfielder who drilled a shot beyond goalkeeper Alan Combe.

Miller squandered an excellent chance to score his second when Dodds' pass allowed the striker to scamper clear, but Miller did not hold his nerve in the one-on-one with Combe.

Dundee United's responses were timid but Mvondo Atangana came close to reducing the deficit with a rising shot in the 66th minute that gave goalkeeper Jesper Christiansen a scare. However, it was Combe who had to deal with all the real threat. The United keeper produced a fine save from Tugay's vicious shot, following McCann's short corner, and Jamie Buchan cleared before anyone could finish off the rebound.

Rangers (4-4-2): J Christiansen; S Porrini, S Wilson, L Amoruso, A Numan; F Ricksen, B Ferguson, K Tugay, N McCann; K Miller (P Lovenkrands, 76), B Dodds. Substitutes not used: B Konterman, M Brown, J Gibson, M Ross.

Dundee United (4-4-2): A Combe; J de Vos, J Lauchlan, D Partridge (M Atangana, 38); J McQuillan, J Licina, J Buchan, C Easton, H Aljofree; A Ventis (S Leoni, 68), S Thompson. Substitutes not used: H Davidson, S McConalogue, P Onstad.

Referee: M McCurry.

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