Miller hat-trick saves Rangers
Rangers cemented their position on top of the Scottish Premier League as Kenny Miller's hat-trick secured a 3-2 win over ten-man Kilmarnock today.
Miller's heroics meant Walter Smith's side moved four points clear of second-placed Celtic ahead of their Glasgow rivals' match against Dundee United later.
A dramatic match saw the champions come from behind thanks to two Miller penalties after Conor Sammon's opener. Killie's Mohamadou Sissoko was then sent off in the second half before Sammon equalised, but Miller completed his treble with the winner.
Kilmarnock pushed Rangers onto the back foot in the early stages and threatened when Alexei Eremenko released Sammon, who found himself with only Allan McGregor to beat but was denied by the goalkeeper's brave block. Miller hooked Kyle Lafferty's pass just over the crossbar as Rangers tried to gain a hold in the game.
The hosts made the breakthrough in the 21st minute when Eremenko's chip found Liam Kelly at the back post and he cut back for Sammon to bundle home from close range. Killie kept pushing forward in search of a second goal and Mehdi Taouil should have done better than shoot weakly at McGregor.
But Rangers were handed a route back into the match when referee Euan Norris pointed to the penalty spot after 41 minutes for a Sissoko trip on Miller. The striker picked himself up to take the spot-kick and calmly dispatched the equaliser past Cameron Bell.
Sammon almost restored Kilmarnock's lead when he collected Craig Bryson's pass inside the six-yard box, but his effort caught under the body of McGregor and Richard Foster was able to clear off the line.
Rangers took full advantage of that escape as another foul by Sissoko, this time on Lafferty in the 55th minute, presented the visitors with a second penalty and led to the Kilmarnock player's dismissal for a second booking. Miller smashed in the spot-kick, yet Kilmarnock equalised after 59 minutes when Jamie Hamill's cross was clinically converted by Sammon.
Rangers showed great character to regain the lead just four minutes later when Miller took a Steven Whittaker cross in space and rifled past Bell. Miller could have added a fourth goal in the closing moments when he surged clear on goal only to see his point-blank effort blocked by Bell, but he had already done enough to earn the points.