>Rangers 2 Kilmarnock 0: Darcheville takes edge off Rangers' Euro letdown

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The Independent Football

No European hangover for Rangers. The bitter disappointment of their midweek trip to Germany was swept aside by a vigorous display which closed the gap on Celtic at the top of the SPL to one point.

Walter Smith's side knew before they went out yesterday that their Old Firm rivals had drawn at Tynecastle in the lunchtime contest. An early strike from Jean-Claude Darcheville and a beauty from Steven Whittaker finished off Kilmarnock.

If Rangers had suffered, physically and psychologically, from conceding a late goal in midweek to lose their Champions' League match at Stuttgart 3-2, then it did not show in the initial stages as Walter Smith's side flew out of the blocks. Darche-ville outmuscled Ryan O'Leary to reach Kris Boyd's flick and showed great composure to steer the ball beyond Alan Combe after four minutes.

Killie were rarely seen in attack, but in terms of possession and organisation were more than a match for Rangers. But the visitors were to pay for their lack of punch nine minutes into the second half when Whittakerdoubled Rangers' lead with a sublime goal.

A neat move down the left saw Charlie Adam and Steven Naismith dovetail before the latter's reverse pass into the run of Whittaker, who cut into the box and skipped past Simon Ford to curled a fine right-foot finish beyond Combe. The contest was effectively over for Kilmarnock.

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