Gascoigne crowned

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The Independent Online
By Jonathan Northcroft

Rangers 3

McCoist 9, Hateley 25, Gascoigne 63

Morton 0

Attendance: 42,949

EUROPEAN underdogs have a habit of paralysing Rangers, but the champions seldom fail to bare their teeth in their own backyard. Yesterday Morton weren't exactly savaged but were soundly chased off by goals from Ally McCoist and Paul Gascoigne either side of a Mark Hateley volley. Rangers will hope their purpose can hold against Anorthosis Famagusta on Wednesday in a tie to decide entrance to the Champions League.

McCoist is likely to be substitute for that one despite another remarkable day. There are times that the striker simply doesn't seem to be living the same life as the rest of us. Even this more mundane encounter brought feats afresh, his 300th goal for the club rolled home in the ninth minute after a bustling run from Gascoigne.

Predictably it was the Geordie who received much of the treatment dished out by the Morton midfield and supporters. With the latter baying, Gascoigne crafted a 24th-minute corner on to Richard Gough's head. The initial effort was half cleared but fell to Hateley, who steered in a volley from close range.

Against such relative paupers, Gascoigne's darts and dribbles were princely. He tormented Morton although his opposite number, the outstanding Derek McInnes, twice unlocked the champions with astute through-passes. One made just after half-time allowed Derek Lilley to set up Marco Rajamaki, who fluffed an angled chance when through.

But the day was Gascoigne's, who enjoyed the coronation of a first goal for Rangers on the hour. Bringing down a long Gough pass on his chest, Gascoigne turned three defenders deliciously before dispatching an imperious 18-yard curler.

More importantly perhaps, the midfielder lasted 90 minutes and, in Ian Ferguson, Rangers have found a suitable onfield minder for him. But Ferguson limped off with a hamstring injury after a second-half challenge and will almost certainly miss Wednesday's tie. This, more than Gascoigne's renaissance, may prove telling for Rangers.