Reyna's emotional double

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The Independent Football

Claudio Reyna lifted seven weeks of torment from his shoulders with one moment which kept Rangers in the Scottish Premier League title race.

The United States captain ensured that his club did not lose further ground on Saturday night with the goals which secured a 2-0 win a way to third-placed Livingston.

Rangers knew they could not afford to slip up at Almondvale Stadium – with Celtic winning earlier in the day – and Reyna dedicated his double to the 11 September terrorist victims in his homeland. The New Jersey-raised midfielder lifted up his Rangers shirt after scoring to reveal a New York Fire Department T-shirt.

"I grew up within 20 miles of New York, as did my wife, and this was just something I wanted to do. I have had lots of message of support from Rangers fans, and other fans around Britain, and it is nice to know they care."

The Rangers manager, Dick Advocaat, admitted that the player has been in a trough since 11 September. "What happened in America had a big impact on Claudio," said Advocaat. "His parents and friends are over there and so is his heart."

Reyna struck after 23 minutes, when he met a cutback from Claudio Caniggia to drill in a low shot and then doubled the lead in the 58th minute by pouncing after Livingston goalkeeper Nick Culkin parried a shot from Tore Andre Flo.

It will raise Rangers' confidence ahead of Thursday's Uefa Cup second round, second leg, when Rangers take a 3-1 lead to Dynamo Moscow, but it was deflating for Livingston.

The fairytale story of Scottish football suffered only their second defeat in 12 games of their first campaign in the top flight, but holding both Old Firm sides to draws in August had heightened hopes within a club which was in the Third Division only six years ago.

"We did not do ourselves justice," said Livingston manager, Jim Leishman, "but we must remember how far we have come."

Celtic protected their lead at the top by securing a precious victory at home to Kilmarnock, thanks to a goal from Joos Valgaeren in stoppage time.

Kilmarnock's superbly organised defence had held firm until Neil Lennon pumped a free-kick into the box which was met by Johan Mjallby, whose shot was going in until Valgaeren made sure.

Martin O'Neill believes that the narrow escape could provide the morale-boost his team need before Wednesday's crucial Champions' League match at home to Juventus. "Sometimes games like that can be just as invigorating as a 6-0 win," said the Celtic manager.

Henrik Larsson sat in the stand, but O'Neill said that fatigue rather than form was the reason.

Aberdeen moved into fourth place with a 3-2 win over Hearts at Pittodrie, thanks to a 67th-minute goal from substitute Derek Young. Hearts finished with nine men after Austrian international Thomas Flogel was sent off, along with Graham Weir and Aberdeen's Ben Thornley.

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