Rangers edged closer to this season's Scottish Premier League title on Tuesday as two first-half goals helped them to a 2-0 win over Dundee United in what was an emotional home farewell for manager Walter Smith.
The result means Rangers are just one win away from their third successive championship, although they could clinch it on Wednesday if Celtic lose to Hearts at Tynecastle. Smith, in his final match at Ibrox before retiring in the summer, watched on as Nikica Jelavic headed home his 18th of the season in the 21st minute before Northern Irish hitman Kyle Lafferty scored for the third successive match four minutes later.
However, the manager wouldn't have been happy at his side's disjointed second-half performance as nerves began to show, but they ground out the result that means he has the chance to add a tenth championship to go with his five Scottish Cups and League Cup medals.
Dundee United, who left the weekend's hat-trick hero Jon Daly on the bench, were the first to threaten when Keith Watson cut inside and fired a shot just over the bar. Rangers quickly began to impose themselves and when Steven Whittaker's shot rebounded to Jelavic, the Croatian sent a snapshot straight at Dusan Pernis.
A great passage of one-touch football ended when Jelavic's drilled cross was smothered by the keeper in his six-yard box. A goal seemed inevitable for the home side and Jelavic provided it. Whittaker sent an inviting inswinging cross from the left into the box where Jelavic rose unmarked to head the ball over the helpless Pernis.
Pernis saved Watson's blushes when he rushed out to meet a sloppy back-pass before Lafferty, but he had barely time to catch his breath before he was beaten again. Steven Naismith went on a surging run to the edge of the box before feeding Lafferty who drilled an angled shot into the bottom corner of the net.
United began to find a way into the game after the break and the Rangers defence went to sleep as Scott Robertson was allowed space to head Craig Conway's corner at goal, but Sasa Papac cleared the danger. The pair combined again minutes later, but this time McGregor held Robertson's flicked header.
Lee McCulloch was brought on to shore up the Rangers midfield as the home fans became nervous. Jelavic came close to settling their nerves when his curling free-kick went inches over, before Pernis held a powerful header from the Croatian at the second attempt.
Madjid Bougherra's mistake let in Daly, but McGregor, who has conceded only one goal in the last nine games, pulled off a superb save to stop his fierce strike. The Rangers supporters hearts were in their mouths when substitute Stuart Armstrong sent a screaming shot crashing off the outside of the post, but Rangers held on to move a step closer to the championship.
Elsewhere Hamilton were relegated after losing 1-0 to St Johnstone while St Mirren won 1-0 away to Aberdeen.