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Scottish Football: Rangers count cost of McCoist injury

ANY satisfaction Rangers might have derived from winning their first three points of the season from a 2-1 win over Motherwell was marred by the loss of their striker Ally McCoist, who was taken from Ibrox on a stretcher, writes David McKinney.

His early departure was the result of a calf injury, the severity of which is likely to keep him out of action for three weeks and means he will miss several important matches, including the European Cup preliminary round second leg against AEK Athens on Wednesday week as well as the first Old Firm meeting of the season against Celtic at Ibrox on the following Saturday.

He will also be unavailable to Craig Brown, the Scotland manager, for the opening European Championship qualifying match in Finland on 7 September. McCoist's woes were in marked contrast to the sparkling contribution made by the summer signing from Fiorentina, Brian Laudrup. He set up Mark Hateley for the opening goal in the first half and with two minutes remaining ran 60 yards before delivering the pass from which Duncan Ferguson scored the winner.

However, Rangers go into Wednesday's Scottish Coca-Cola Cup second-round match against Arbroath without Laudrup who will be on duty with Denmark.

Motherwell's Rab Shannon was sent off at Ibrox as referees adhered to strict guidelines following the World Cup, but Dundee United came off the worst as the United defender, Alex Cleland, was ordered off after 26 minutes against Hibernian, who took advantage, overwhelming the Scottish Cup holders 5-0. Ivan Golac, the United manager, said: 'It's just a joke and if the game continues to go in this direction I will be off.'

Celtic, under their new manager, Tommy Burns, could only draw 1-1 with Falkirk, while Aberdeen, tipped by many as the side most likely to challenge Rangers for the title, opened up with a 3-1 win over Hearts, which included a goal from their record pounds 800,000 signing from St Johnstone, Billy Dodds. Outside the Premier Division, the two newcomers to the Scottish league, Caledonian Thistle and Ross County, started with wins over Arbroath and Cowdenbeath, respectively.