Rangers revolution? There was something in the air yesterday at Ibrox but it smelled like revolt until a piece of fortune hauled Paul le Guen's house-warming from the brink of defeat. Rangers fans were in a ferment as the new French manager's team went two goals down to Dundee United on the second day of the SPL.
Two substitutions rescued Rangers: one was inspired, in Chris Burke, who swiftly halved the deficit. The other was incred-ible, as United's Steven Robb headed a freak 79th-minute own goal to rob his team of victory.
Le Guen's first League game at Ibrox in charge of Rangers was an occasion heavily laced with ambivalence. A desire to make the new man feel at home was mixed with the threat of a Uefa ban hanging over the club.
Le Guen walked out to a backdrop of three stands filled with giant French tricolours from the mosaic of red, white and blue cards held aloft by Rangers fans. On those cards was a message from the chairman, David Murray, to supporters to stop singing the sectarian songs that prompted a fine from Europe's governing body last season, with more severe punishment threatened for the next offence.
Had Le Guen's team taken any of the plethora of chances that they created and squandered in the first period, then raucous celebrations might have tested the chairman's plea. However, having withstood a first-half barrage of pressure, still clutching a precious lead, Dundee United then began to nurse ambitions of repeating their win here of April last year.
Noel Hunt silenced Ibrox after 15 minutes with ruthless efficiency that Rangers failed to match. The lone striker superbly controlled a cross from Stuart Duff and then turned Karl Svensson before rifling a right-foot shot into the roof of the net.
In contrast, Derek Stillie's goal at the other end led a charmed life. The Dundee United goalkeeper made a superb early save from Libor Sionko's volley and then denied Charlie Adam's spectacular effort. Stillie then produced another remarkable stop from Sionko before the Czech Republic player grazed the bar with yet another shot on the turn in the 25th minute.
When Stillie did find himself beaten, his colleagues came to his rescue, as Greg Cameron did before the half-hour and then Mark Kerr just minutes before the interval to preserve United's lead. Containment was clearly a risky policy, and United showed greater adventure in the second half. It paid off as Christian Kalvenes doubled their lead in the 56th minute.
Rangers had already survived when Alan Hutton produced a goal-line slide to knock Cameron's shot away and then Jérémy Clément had to dive in to deny Barry Robson. However, from Robson's inswinging corner, Kalvenes lost his marker to power a header beyond the goalkeeper, Lionel Letizi.
Ibrox was in a state of near-revolt. Le Guen introduced Burke and not only did that pacify the fans but the Scotland winger produced a goal within two minutes of his arrival. He gathered Thomas Buffel's pass and stepped inside before thrashing a left-foot shot past Stillie from 25 yards.
Filip Sebo, purchased in midweek from Austria Vienna for £1.8m, came off the bench to add his weight to the quest for an equaliser. He and Kris Boyd were denied by Stillie on several occas-ions. It required a freak moment to beat Stillie and Robb provided it as he tried to cushion Steven Smith's aimless long ball back to Stillie but glanced it beyond the bemused goalkeeper.Reuse content