Smith delights in 'special' title win against the odds

Walter Smith secured his ninth title for Rangers with a 1-0 victory over Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League yesterday, then admitted this one was "a wee bit special".

The waiting was finally over for the Scottish champions as they sealed their second consecutive title at Easter Road with three games to go, thanks to a Kyle Lafferty goal in the 17th minute. Smith is no stranger to winning silverware, having guided Rangers to seven of their nine successive championships in the late 1980s and 1990s. But, against a backdrop of financial woes and uncertainty over the future ownership of the club, he said this particular achievement stands out.

"You always feel grateful for the fact that you've won a trophy and you are in this position, as Rangers teams are a lot of the time," Smith said. "But this one is maybe a little bit different from the others we have had because of the circumstances surrounding the club and the difficulties we have faced. You enjoy anything you win, but this one is a wee bit special for everyone involved."

Smith has not bought a player since the arrival of Maurice Edu from Toronto in August 2008 and he added: "We've got a good group of players, we just don't have a lot of them in terms of the size of group that's needed for a club like Rangers. That's what maybe separates it from a lot of the other championships I've been fortunate enough to win. It's a small group and it's maybe been a little bit against the odds."

Earlier, Celtic in second place made sure that Rangers had to win to retain their title by beating Dundee United 2-0 at Tannadice. A first-half strike from Diomansy Kamara and a late Robbie Keane penalty clinched victory for the visitors in a tetchy game which saw eight bookings and the sending off of United's Jennison Myrie-Williams.

Celtic's caretaker manager Neil Lennon was full of praise for his side after they won their fifth league game in a row. He said: "I thought the referee should have stamped down on things much earlier. For me there was only one team who tried to win the game."

The home side claimed Williams, who was booked twice, was the victim of a case of mistaken identity. Manager Peter Houston said referee Iain Brines had thought Williams was one of their other players, Prince Buaben. "It was unbelievable," Houston said. "He got the wrong guy. Let him come out and say it."