Alex McLeish saw his ulimatum answered by the Rangers players he said were playing for their futures with an emphatic victory at Ibrox, but for Dundee the future looks bleak. Last May, these sides faced each other in the Scottish Cup final but since then Dundee have been overtaken by administration and that came back to haunt them as their former hero, Gavin Rae, heaped futher pain by choosing this occasion to score his first goal for his new club.
Rae was not the only player to switch sides. Zurab Khizanishvili left Dens Park in a contract dispute last summer which saw Dundee fail to get even a penny from a tribunal. Rae's recent move for just £250,000, though paltry, brought some precious cash flow to a club that is £20m in debt and explained why the Scotland international received a courteous reception from his former fans while Khizanishvili was jeered.
The next one to go could be Nacho Novo. The little Spaniard is the best scorer in the SPL, with Henrik Larsson and Chris Sutton, and had a chance to enhance his credentials after just nine minutes when his pace carried him clear of Craig Moore before advancing on goalkeeper Stefan Klos, but with the goal at his mercy, Novo steered his shot wide.
It was the kind of moment that has peppered Rangers wretched campaign. Stripped of last season's treble, McLeish has identified those who can leave and those who have a question mark against their name. Peter Lovenkrands is in the latter category and the Dane was denied from scoring by some excellent goalkeeping by Julian Speroni.
The pressure on Dundee was unrelenting. Rae almost punished his former club six minutes before half-time when some good chest control preceded a dart into the area, his raking shot beating Speroni only for Dave Mackay to rescue the visitors with a slide that hooked the ball off the line. From Michael Ball's corner, Steven Thompson fashioned another header and the vigilance of Neil Barrett on the back post paid off for Dundee with a vital block.
The dam burst in the 41st minute as Rangers finally scored, but there was a huge measure of controversy in Lovenkrands' goal. Dundee claimed that Moore had levered Brent Sancho out the way to knock Ball's cross back to Frank de Boer, whose header was then turned in by Lovenkrands. The linesman's raised flag indicated agreement, but referee Alan Freeland - after a long touchline debate - overruled his colleague to Duff's rage.
There was no doubt, however, about the way Frank de Boer doubled Rangers' advantage barely two minutes into the second half. The Dutch defender conjured up a sublime free-kick from 30 yards.
Dundee's appetite visibly waned after that. Chris Burke almost scored with an audacious solo effort before Rae rubbed it in by scoring a third in the 80th minute.
Then, just two minutes later, Thompson added a fourth. Hutton's fine cross was dummied by Michael Mols allowing Thompson to ruthlessly beat Speroni with a low finish.
Rangers 4 Dundee 0
Lovenkrands 41, F de Boer 47, Rae 81, Thompson 83
Half-time: 1-0 Attendance: 49,364Reuse content