Lovenkrands' late strike rescues Rangers after spirited performance by Partick

Partick Thistle 0 Rangers 1
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The Independent Football

Peter Lovenkrands rescued Rangers from another potential pitfall with a searing finish 14 minutes from the end at Firhill yesterday, before departing the stage on a stretcher after a vicious tackle by Ian Ross damaged his ankle.

The Dane's 11th goal of the season ensured that the champions remained 11 points adrift of Celtic in the Scottish Premier League title race.

Partick Thistle made a mockery of their position at the bottom of the table to offer up a spirited resistance to Frank de Boer on his debut for Rangers, which ought to ensure that the Dutchman will be sharp enough by the time the Euro 2004 comes around if he receives this examination on a regular basis.

"It was a hard game and Partick deserve credit," said the former Ajax and Barcelona defender, who signed for Alex McLeish's side on a short-term contract last week.

"It took a piece of inspiration from Peter to win us the game," McLeish admitted as he surveyed a third 1-0 victory in a row.

Rangers might have gone ahead midway through the first half when Lovenkrands conjured up a venemous 25-yard shot, but the Thistle goalkeeper, Kenny Arthur, reacted superbly to touch the ball over.

Partick's best chance came from Gerry Britton, but his volley was well blocked by Henning Berg.

After the break, Ronald de Boer came close with a header just before the hour, but it was Lovenkrands who broke the deadlock in the 76th minute. The Dane danced past Jean Anis and switched the ball from right foot to his favoured left before firing an angled shot past Arthur.

Thistle threw everything at Rangers in the pursuit of an equaliser, but it failed to earn a merited reward and they are now 10 points adrift at the bottom.

Goal: Lovenkrands (76) 0-1.

Partick Thistle (3-5-2): Arthur; Murray, Madaschi, Milne; Anis, McBride (A Ross, 90), Rowson, I Ross, Waddell (Bonnes, 65); Britton (Thomson, 85), Grady. Substitutes not used: J Langfield (gk), E Forrest.

Rangers (4-4-2): Klos; Khizanishvili (M Ross, 66), Berg, F de Boer, Ball; Namouchi, Ricksen, Nerlinger, Lovenkrands (Malcolm, 83); Capucho (R de Boer, 54), Mols. Substitutes not used: A McGregor (gk), A Walker.

Referee: S Dougal.

Bookings: Partick: McBride, Rowson, Waddell. Rangers: Khizanishvili, Ball, Ricksen.

Man of the match: Lovenkrands.

Attendance: 8,220.