Jelavic braces boosts ten-man Rangers
Nikica Jelavic scored a double as ten-man Rangers extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League to 12 points with a clinical 3-1 win over Dundee United at Ibrox.
United had been the last team to defeat Rangers in the league back in April and Peter Houston's side created the better opportunities early on. However, Jelavic headed home Matt McKay's cross to give his side a 19th-minute lead before converting a penalty just after the hour.
Jon Daly gave United hope when he pulled one back 12 minutes later, but Garry Kenneth scored an own goal with eight minutes remaining under pressure from Jelavic before substitute Gregg Wylde saw red in stoppage time for an off-the-ball incident.
The win continues Rangers unbeaten start to the season and sends them 15 points clear of Celtic, who face second-placed Motherwell at Fir Park on Sunday.
Kyle Lafferty failed a late fitness test meaning McKay was handed his first start and Kyle Bartley returned from injury to replace Lee McCulloch. Despite their stuttering start to the season which saw them start the game in eighth place, United had the best of the opening period with Daly firing over before Johnny Russell sent a swerving shot from long range wide of the post.
However, after soaking up the initial pressure it was the league leaders who took the lead with their first shot on target in the 19th minute. Australian international McKay unpicked the United defence with a inch-perfect cross and the unmarked Jelavic leapt to bullet a downward header past Dusan Pernis.
United almost hit back immediately with Allan McGregor having to scramble across his goal to palm away Dorin Goian's wayward clearance which looked to be sneaking in. Lee Wallace crossed for Jelavic to fire a volley straight at Pernis before the left-back was replaced by Wylde in the 32nd minute after suffering a knee injury.
After the break, United's Garry Kenneth rifled a shot from distance that flew just wide of the post on 61 minutes, and a minute later Rangers won themselves a penalty when Dixon brought down Wylde inside the area. Jelavic stepped up to send Pernis the wrong way from the spot as he buried his shot low to the keeper's right.
United never looked out of the match, though, and pulled one back in the 73rd minute when Daly sent a looping header over McGregor and in from a Kenneth cross. However any hope of a comeback was extinguished in the 82nd minute when Kenneth turned the ball into his own net after Jelavic had helped on a hopeful ball from Steven Whittaker. Wylde then saw red in stoppage time for an off-the-ball incident with Willo Flood.
Elsewhere, Inverness remain bottom on goal difference from Aberdeen despite a 6-3 win away to Kilmarnock. Andrew Shinnie netted a hat-trick and Gregory Tade scored a brace for the Highlanders, who had been 1-0 down.
Dunfermline won for the first time in ten matches, beating Hibernian 1-0 in Edinburgh thanks to an early goal from Austin McCann. Fifth-placed Hearts were held to a goalless draw by St Mirren.