Gascoigne grabs the glory

Rangers 1 Gascoigne 77 Dundee United 0 Attendance: 48,285
Click to follow
The Independent Online
Supporters pay money for it. So do managers, though rather more. Paul Gascoigne delivers what they all want. One priceless moment of Gazza magic clinched victory for Rangers over stubborn Dundee United at Ibrox and secured three valuable points.

The England playmaker scored 19 goals last season to seal the Premier League championship but none so delicious as this 75th minute strike. Skipping along the 18-yard line trying to engineer space for a right-foot shot, Gascoigne found two defenders blocking that option, so he pirouetted and sweetly clubbed the ball with his left foot past keeper Ally Maxwell.

If Rangers fans were inclined to think that their side had reached perfection with that stunning 7-2 Champions' League defeat of Alania Vladikavkaz in Russia, Walter Smith reminded them otherwise by bringing in Gascoigne for his first competitive appearance of the season. Curiously, Peter van Vossen, who had scored five goals in the previous three games, was stood down, the Dutchman earning only a place on the bench.

The former Rangers defender Steven Pressley, back at Ibrox for the first time since leaving for Coventry two years ago, had been made captain for the day in place of the suspended Dave Bowman, and he carved out United's best opening after 24 minutes. Pressley's superb run down the left touchline was halted illegally by Stuart McCall. Owen Coyle swept over the free- kick and Andy McLaren's glancing header should have ended in the net instead of going past Andy Goram's post.

Gascoigne had a quiet time before he threaded a sublime pass through to Richard Gough in the 36th minute, which ended with Miller forcing a good save out of Maxwell. Gascoigne and Gough combined again, four minutes into the second half, when the England midfielder dropped a perfect free- kick - following Duffy's trip on Laudrup - on to the head of his captain but the ball flew just inches over the bar.

Ally McCoist blazed over after 52 minutes when it was easier to score but his supporters were blazing mad just seconds later when referee Jim McCluskey refused to award Rangers a penalty after Miller tumbled as he brushed past United defender Jamie McQuilken. Miller was so incensed that he was booked for protesting his case as was substitute Gordon Durie, warming up nearby, for stupidly offering his thoughts on the subject.

Miller created greater panic in the United defence 10 minutes later when he drilled in a shot which Maxwell spilled into McCoist's path before Mark Perry cleared the ball for a corner.

Gordan Petric, who had earlier been booked for pulling down Coyle, was then fortunate to escape expulsion after he resumed his feud with his former team-mate off the pitch.

Rangers brought on van Vossen for Miller, seven minutes before Gascoigne's glorious strike. Rangers could even afford to miss a last-minute penalty, when Durie's kick was kept out by Maxwell.

United were already washed up thanks to the bleach boy.