Rangers' luxury man helps put Celtic champagne on ice as many say farewell to Ibrox in Dundee destruction

Champions-elect are made to wait as Dundee’s two-goal lead is blown apart

There hasn’t been much to celebrate around Ibrox in recent weeks so this come-from-behind win was accepted gratefully enough, particularly in view of what it thwarted.

Shortly before half time, in the dazed moments after Dundee had scored to take a 2-0 lead, it looked as if Celtic would be sending more than just pitch covers to Dens Park. A hamper full of vintage champagne too, perhaps. Injury-hampered Rangers deserve some credit for delaying the inevitable although Dundee do have form for failing to close out two-goal leads. This was the fourth time this season and such fragility might have cost Tony Docherty's side a place in Europe.

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Rangers' recent failings have been more costly in terms of their own ambitions. However, they did what they had to do here to at least make Celtic work a little more for their title. Brendan Rodgers’ side now head to Kilmarnock on Wednesday knowing a result will see them anointed champions.

Rangers' Cyriel Dessers celebrates with Todd Cantwell during the 5-2 win over Dundee.Rangers' Cyriel Dessers celebrates with Todd Cantwell during the 5-2 win over Dundee.
Rangers' Cyriel Dessers celebrates with Todd Cantwell during the 5-2 win over Dundee.

Things might have got very toxic here indeed at Ibrox. But a Kevin Gallacher-against-Barcelona-style goal from Todd Cantwell from out near the touchline – did he really mean it? – put the hosts in front midway through the second half. Goals from Ross McCausland and Cyriel Dessers had cancelled out the visitors’ two-goal lead. A late double from substitute Scott Wright made it five and gave Dundee the unwanted status of having the worst defensive record in the league.

Cantwell’s woes have been well documented of late. He didn’t even get off the bench against Celtic on Saturday, although John Lundstram’s red card was a major reason for that. The midfielder’s guiles are sometimes considered a bit of a luxury but they were required here. Few would have tried what he did after 66 minutes. The ball soared over Jon McCracken and rattled into the net off the keeper's far post.

The weather had earlier matched the prevailing mood. Unrelentingly grim. It wasn’t severe enough to put the match under any threat – now wouldn’t that have been a talking point? – although it was unpleasant to a point where it would have been very easy for a Rangers fan to gaze outside and conclude, 'nah, not tonight'. It briefly looked like a wise decision. Even John Brown, the half time “Union Jackpot” guest, struggled to raise spirits though he had been handed an arduous assignment. A hospital pass, in football parlance. Rangers had managed to live down to the bleak expectations of their fans, particularly the stayaways, by trailing at half-time against a team who haven't won here since 2001. And Dundee were worth the lead.

The fixture would have seemed an unattractive prospect even if the sun was shining as far as the home supporters were concerned. They were still suffering from post-Old Firm neurosis. Thousands of empty seats told its own story. The match programme stepped gingerly around the issue of what had occurred at Celtic Park four days earlier. “Saturday’s result was disappointing for everyone connected to the club, but it is about trying to build momentum now in the last two games ahead of the Scottish Cup final,” wrote James Bisgrove, the Rangers CEO, in his programme column.

Scott Wright scored two late goals for Rangers.Scott Wright scored two late goals for Rangers.
Scott Wright scored two late goals for Rangers.

Philippe Clement, meanwhile, talked about “character” and “resilience” while finishing his notes with a special mention for the board, who, one imagines, he will need on his side to help fund his ambitions to take the next step. “When this season is over, the work will continue to make Rangers stronger so that we can build on the foundations we have put down over the past eight months,” stated Clement.

It’s clear that several who played here might not do so again at Ibrox. Fabio Silva, for example, following a somewhat underwhelming loan period from Wolves. He passed up Rangers’ best chances before McCausland dragged Rangers back into proceedings with a goal just before half-time. One of Silva’s efforts hit the top of the bar. It might have been a less complicated victory had Rangers got the first goal.

Conceding first against Celtic – which they have now done in 11 of their last 12 meetings – is one thing, but doing so against the Dens Park side is quite another. It’s now happened twice against Dundee at Ibrox this season. The visitors' goals came from the same area of the park – Dundee’s left, Rangers’ right. Owen Dodgson, on loan from Burnley, has the sweetest of left foots and he swept in a glorious ball after 38 minutes that picked out an unmarked Jordan McGhee at the far post. The right back’s vision of what he wanted to do probably did not match the reality – a mis-hit into the sodden turf. But the ball’s bounce deceived Jack Butland, who had gone down too early, and nestled in the net to the utter dismay of the home fans.

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Could it get any worse? Well, yes, it could. Two minutes later it was 2-0. Dodgson was again the architect as he curled in another hard-to-defend cross after a quick free-kick. Portales got ahead of his marker and flicked into the corner. Butland was rooted to the spot. The majority inside Ibrox reacted with fury. The small band of Dundee fans in the corner were beside themselves with delight. As at Parkhead, Rangers needed something before half time or else they knew they would feel the force of a full throttle seethe. They got it through the clever McAusland. The young winger took advantage of uncertainty between Dodgson and Portales, who moments earlier had combined to score Dundee’s second, and drove past Jon McCracken.

Six minutes into the second half it was 2-2. Dessers beat Portales to the ball and headed in Cantwell’s cross. Then came Cantwell’s moment, milked to the max as he stood and accepted the acclaim of the crowd before kissing the badge on his shirt. Former on-loan Dundee player Scott Wright wrapped things up with a late double after his appearance off the bench, converting from close range for four and curling in number five after McCausland’s dink.



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