Rangers step forward

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Scottish football

Victory in next Sunday's game against Aberdeen would start off the now traditional end-of-season party for the perennial champions of Scotland. Rangers are one win away from their eighth successive title after a 3- 1 win over Motherwell on Saturday, and such has been the exacting nature of Celtic's challenge this season the champagne at Ibrox will never have tasted as sweet.

While the victory is not yet assured, the manner in which Rangers went about their business on Saturday in a potentially hazardous fixture suggested that this side will settle for nothing less than total victory. Goals from Stuart McCall, Erik Bo Andersen and Paul Gascoigne secured the win that leaves Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, with a dilemma. Gascoigne collected his 13th League booking to leave him one yellow card from suspension, which would rule him out of the Tennents Scottish Cup final against Hearts on 18 May.

Smith must decide whether to drop Gascoigne for Sunday and risk losing one of his most influential players. Smith is aware that Celtic still believe Rangers will drop points and with a four-point difference between the two, a defeat and a draw for the reigning champions would allow Celtic a victory of Nick Faldo proportions.

Celtic kept up the pace with a 4-0 win over Falkirk, which relegated the Bairns to the First Division, while Partick Thistle, after losing to Kilmarnock, will contest the play-off place with the First Division runners-up.