Miller pulls the strings as Davis and Novo keep Rangers in front

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The Independent Football

Steven Davis and substitute Nacho Novo both claimed their first goals of the season to keep Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premier League with a win over Motherwell at Ibrox yesterday. Both players struck in the second half before David Clarkson pulled a goal back with a few minutes remaining

Rangers had the bulk of the possession early on and carved out the first opportunity when Davis crossed for Kenny Miller in the box and the striker narrowly fired over.

Miller unleashed a ferocious drive that goalkeeper Graeme Smith just managed to touch past his left-hand post as Rangers pressed for the opener before the break.

But Smith was left plucking the ball out of the net after 56 minutes when Davis pounced on a Miller ball before racing into the box and rifling home.

Novo came on with 71 minutes gone and he had the three points wrapped up four minutes later. Miller whipped a teasing ball across the face of goal and Smith's attempts at a clearance fell only as far as Novo six yards out, from where he bundled home without knowing a great deal about the goal.

Two goals from Georgios Samaras helped Celtic to a comfortable win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park and back into second place behind Rangers.

It was a remarkable afternoon which witnessed three penalties – one missed – and a sending-off.

The Hoops midfielder Shaun Maloney curled home the opener in 25 minutes after missing the target with a penalty after he had been tripped inside the box by Garry Hay.

Samaras scored a wonderful solo goal 10 minutes after the break and an 80th-minute penalty before Killie midfielder Mehdi Taouil scored a consolation from the spot after the Celtic defender Gary Caldwell was sent off for handling a Simon Ford header on the line.