Rangers wrap up title in style
Rangers wrapped up their 52nd league title in style with a 3-0 final day defeat of Dundee United at Tannadice, as rivals Celtic were held to a goalless draw at home to Heart of Midlothian. Kyle Lafferty, Pedro Mendes and Kris Boyd were the heroes as Walter Smith's men put the heartache of last season, when a final day defeat handed a third straight title to Celtic, behind them.
Lafferty, vilified from the start by the home fans after he was caught feigning injury to get Charlie Mulgrew sent off in last weekend's match against Aberdeen, slid Rangers into an early lead. Portuguese midfielder Mendes then volleyed home the second on the stroke of half-time to start the party in the Rangers support before Boyd secured the title with a second-half tap-in.
Celtic's draw at Parkhead means the Ibrox side finish the season four points clear of their Old Firm rivals and will now bid to make it the double in next weekend's Scottish Cup Final against Falkirk. Rangers started the day knowing a win would secure the title no matter the result at Parkhead and could have taken the lead after just 90 seconds.
Steven Davis collected a long ball from Sasa Papac and cut it back across the six-yard box, but both Kris Boyd and Kenny Miller missed it. However, it was not long until the Rangers onslaught produced a goal through Lafferty in the sixth minute.
Davis fed Boyd in the box and his shot was deflected in by the Northern Ireland international from just yards out. Davis, who was making a real impact down the right, then teed up Miller with a cross, but the Scotland striker ballooned it over the bar.
United, who needed a point to make sure of European football next season, began to settle in the game with David Robertson heading straight at Neil Alexander from a Craig Conway cross, before Papac made a tremendous last ditch block in the box after David Goodwillie had let fly with a powerful effort. Rangers had the ball in the net again in the 32nd minute when Lafferty tapped in Miller's cross, but the Scotland striker had already been flagged offside.
Boyd missed a golden chance to double their lead in the 38th minute. Papac played an inch-perfect pass in from the left, but the striker took too long to get his shot away and Mihael Kovacevic made an excellent goal-line clearance.
Mendes settled the nerves of the away support when he fired Rangers 2-0 ahead on the stroke of half-time. The Portuguese midfielder showed great technique to send an angled left-foot volley flying past Lukasz Zaluska after Papac's deflected free-kick broke to him on the edge of the box.
Boyd started the title celebrations when he made it 3-0 just six minutes into the second-half. The striker got in front of his marker to tap in Steven Whittaker's cross from just five yards out for his 31st goal of the season. United threw on Francisco Sandaza and Danny Swanson as they searched for some way back into the game, but it was Rangers substitute Nacho Novo who came closest to adding to the scoreline.
The Spaniard broke clear on goal, but Celtic-bound Polish keeper Zaluska denied him with a point-blank save in the 79th minute. United sub Garry Kenneth forced Alexander into his first save of the half five minutes before the end when the keeper tipped over his volley from seven yards out. Former Rangers captain Barry Ferguson made an appearance from the bench as the Glasgow giants played out the match.