Mon, May 19, 2008 - Page 18 News List

Rangers only draw at Motherwell to leave Celtic clear

GOALSCORERS NEEDED Walter Smith admitted that his side had lacked a cutting edge in some of their most important games over the season


Walter Smith believes there could still be another twist in the Scottish Premier League title race after Rangers' draw at Motherwell put Celtic in the driving seat. The 1-1 result on Saturday ended a miserable week for the Ibrox side after their 2-0 defeat in the UEFA Cup Final on Wednesday.

Rangers are now three points behind Celtic and, although Smith’s team have a game-in-hand away to St Mirren today, the Parkhead side are seven goals better off.

However, with both Glasgow giants facing tough away games in their final fixtures on Thursday, with Rangers at Aberdeen and Celtic at Dundee United, the Ibrox side’s manager believes a lot could still change.

“The players were disappointing after the game on Saturday but at the moment we still have a lot to play for,” Smith said. “At the present time if we win both our games and Celtic win at Dundee United they will win on goal difference so they have a slight advantage.”

“But going by the amount of effort that Motherwell put in to Saturday’s game, when they had already secured third place, then those three games will not be easy,” he said.

“Dundee United will make it hard for Celtic, as will St Mirren and Aberdeen for Rangers, so a lot of things could change.” Smith said.

After Rangers’ bid for an historic quadruple was ended by their defeat against Zenit St Petersburg in the UEFA Cup, they were determined to stay on course for a domestic treble by beating Motherwell on Saturday. And with the Fir Park side having already achieved their aim of finishing third in the SPL, the League Cup holders dominated the first half.

In the 29th minute Rangers grabbed the goal they so desperately sought. Motherwell goalkeeper Graeme Smith misjudged Kirk Broadfoot’s hopeful punt into the box allowing Rangers’ defender Christian Dailly to beat him to the ball and nod home.

Daniel Cousin should have double Rangers’ lead in the 46th minute when he barged past Mark Reynolds to go in on goal but the Gabon international’s shot was saved by Smith.

In the 49th minute Rangers were punished for this miss when Motherwell levelled. A David Clarkson header rebounded off the post, the ball fell to Steve McGarry who sent it back across goal and Chris Porter prodded home from close range.

Smith admitted his side have lacked a cutting edge in some of their most important games.

“As has happened in numerous games throughout the season, we had plenty of pressure against Motherwell but just lacked that little bit of extra quality to turn that into goals,” the Rangers manager said.

“It’s a problem we’ve had in quite a few games and we just didn’t have that little bit of composure when we needed it,” Smith said.

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