Great Danes off the leash

Rangers 5 Andersen 18, 21, 63, McCall 87, Gough 89 Partick Thistl e 0 Attendance: 46,438
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The Independent Online
IT HAS been a busy week for Rangers but after their midweek hiccup, losing to Hearts, they had little to complain about yesterday. A new goal- scorer earned himself a hat-trick, their defence was rock solid, and in Paul Gascoigne and Brian Laudrup they had two fabulous entertainers who seemed at times capable of miracles. Struggling at the other end of the table, Partick Thistle, were never going to prove much of an obstacle, and Rangers never really had to break sweat.

Ally McCoist sat in the stand resting a groin strain but, as he edges towards the end of his career, he may have to get used to his new position. For Ibrox has a new goal hero in Erik Bo Andersen, who has played three games and already scored five times. His general play is hardly awe-inspiring and his first touch seems poor, but he had three chances yesterday and took them all, so there'll be few complaints. But even his hat-trick was overshadowed by Laudrup who served up a profusion of flicks and tricks, at one point controlling a 40-yard pass with an upturned heel.

Rangers eased themselves into the game, patiently building attacks. Laudrup connected with Alex Clellend on the right, but while crosses were evading the Thistle defence there was a distinct lack of threat in front of goal. With 18 minutes gone, that all changed. Laudrup collected a Stuart McCall pass midway and sent Andersen clear on the left. He left Nicky Walker in the Thistle goal helplessly sticking out a left foot as the shot cannoned into the roof of the net.

Four minutes later he scored his and Rangers' second with a combination of class and guile. Alan McLaren delivered a long high ball which Andersen killed on his chest, turning to find the net with his left foot again. Nineteen minutes of the second half passed before he took his third, as Laudrup crossed from the left and Andersen nodded in a free header at the far post.

Thistle chased and harassed, but Gascoigne controlled the midfield and Laudrup made havoc wherever he roamed. Gascoigne was unlucky when he struck the crossbar with a curler from the edge of the box. It won him a standing- ovation. But two more goals came late on. Clellend fed McCall in the area to score with a volley with seven minutes to go. Then three minutes from time, substitute Trevor Steven placed a corner on to Richard Gough's head for five. The Ibrox title machine rumbles on. Thistle will have to hope for a place in the play-offs.