Gers back level with Bhoys
Rangers ensured the SPL title race will go right to the wire after a 3-0 win over St Mirren moved them level on points with leaders Celtic.
Last Updated: 19/05/08 10:26pm
Rangers ensured the SPL title race will go right to the wire after a 3-0 win over St Mirren - but the balance of power remains with champions Celtic.
A Kris Boyd strike and a double from Jean-Claude Darcheville means the Old Firm rivals head into the final night of the season level on points but with the defending champions four goals better off.
The destination of the silverware now rests on Rangers' trip to Aberdeen and Celtic's clash with Dundee United at Tannadice on Thursday evening.
This was Rangers' first away win in the league since the 4-0 thrashing of Hearts back in February but whether it will be enough to wrest the crown from Celtic's grasp remains to be seen.
The Ibrox side were ahead as early as the fourth minute. Steven Davis's cross found Kirk Broadfoot unmarked in the box and he flicked a teasing ball across the face of goal. Nacho Novo failed to connect but Boyd was on hand to rifle home from close range.
Rangers failed to capitalise on the momentum of the early opening goal and Saints were handed an opportunity to restore parity when Christian Dailly was deemed to have fouled Billy Mehmet 30 yards out.
Franco Miranda's free-kick was met by Will Haining but his powerful header was held by goalkeeper Neil Alexander. Stephen McGinn then nodded narrowly over for the home side.
Following a flurry of activity from Saints, Rangers pushed forward and had the net bulging again with 23 minutes on the clock.
Stephen O'Donnell accidentally stood on the ball and gifted possession to Darcheville 20 yards out, and he had plenty of time to tee up a low right-footed shot that left goalkeeper Mark Howard with little chance.
The match then erupted when Kevin Thomson appeared to kick the ball off the prostrate Hugh Murray, sparking a melee involving both sets of players, which saw those two, Mehmet and Steven Whittaker go into referee Craig Thomson's book.
Rangers could have added to their lead a minute from the interval. Boyd failed to find the target with a header from a Davis cross and the ball broke to Darcheville, whose overhead kick cracked off the post.
After the break the visitors continued to press and a smart shot from Darcheville was spilled by Howard but Rangers failed to capitalise on the resultant corner.
The Frenchman then turned provider only for Boyd to fail to connect properly in front of goal, before Howard held a David Weir header from Thomson's free kick.
Rangers' hard work paid off when the St Mirren keeper was left fishing the ball out of the net again with 69 minutes gone.
This time, Boyd's lay-off found Barry Ferguson and the skipper played in Darcheville, who slotted under the body of Howard from 12 yards.
Ferguson himself could then have snatched a goal had he not fired over from close range after running onto Boyd's flick-on.
Novo was withdrawn with 15 minutes to go to make way for DaMarcus Beasley, who made his first appearance since sustaining knee ligament damage back in November. Darcheville was then replaced by Daniel Cousin.
As the clock ran down, Rangers claimed Boyd's header was handled on the line by Gary Mason but hopes of a late penalty - and another goal - were in vain.