Boyd’s the man as Gers crush United

Not content to simply level the Celtic legend’s tally of 158, he

ended the match having taken his own tally to 160 goals in Scottish

football’s top flight. Damien Casalinuovo pulled a goal back for

United and Steven Whittaker and Madjid Bougherra were also on the

scoresheet but the night belonged to Boyd, with new Scotland boss

Craig Levein given plenty of food for thought in the stands. The

Scottish champions now boast a seven point lead at the summit ahead

of Sunday’s Old Firm derby, with the only sour point a red card for

Kenny Miller which rules him out of the clash with the Hoops.

Walter Smith named an unchanged side following their 4-1 win over

Hibernian on Sunday, while United – hoping to avenge a 3-0 defeat

against Rangers at Tannadice earlier this month – made three

changes from their goalless draw with Kilmarnock. Darren Dods,

Danny Cadamarteri and Morgaro Gomis were drafted into the side

ahead of Andy Webster – ineligible under the terms of his loan deal

– and Jon Daly and David Goodwillie, who were both named on the

bench. Nacho Novo had the ball in the back of the net in the

opening minutes but the assistant’s offside flag was raised well

before he unleashed the shot. The Spaniard had another chance a few

minutes later. Kirk Broadfoot supplied the cross from the right,

which was touched on by Miller. Boyd, a few yards out, left the

ball for Novo only for him to blast well over. The breakthrough

came when referee William Collum pointed to the penalty spot when

Dods foolishly shoved Miller in the box. Boyd stepped up for the

spot-kick and rifled low into the net to hand the Scottish

champions the advantage with 20 minutes gone. Steven Davis was

denied by the woodwork when his angled drive smacked off the far

post but he turned provider to set up Boyd for his second after 25

minutes. Novo was fouled by Mickael Kovacevic 25 yards out and

Davis rolled a short free-kick to the striker to lash a low shot

past Nicky Weaver and into the back of the net. Garry Kenneth was

then called into action to hook Boyd’s volley off the line moments

later but, with just 29 minutes gone, the prolific hitman claimed

his hat-trick to level Larsson as the SPL’s top scorer with 158

goals. Miller beat Kenneth before providing the cross for Boyd to

stab home from close range to hand Rangers a comfortable lead

heading into the break. United emerged for the second half

determined to show a positive reaction and that is exactly what

they did when they pulled a goal back a minute after the restart.

Paul Dixon supplied a lovely cross for substitute Casalinuovo to

fire through the legs of Allan McGregor from close-range. The home

side were then dealt another blow when Miller was shown a straight

red card for violent conduct with 51 minutes gone following a clash

with Dods – ruling him out of the Old Firm clash on Sunday. Rangers

swapped Novo for Whittaker and he had an immediate impact when he

claimed a goal after 68 minutes. Kyle Lafferty supplied the cross

and Whittaker shrugged off Dixon to fire past the helpless Weaver.

Boyd then broke Larsson’s record with 75 minutes gone. The striker

and Dods both went for Whittaker’s corner with Boyd denied by both

Weaver and Dods before finally stabbing home at the third attempt.

Not content, he claimed his fifth five minutes later when he rifled

into the top corner from 12 yards before leaving the pitch to a hug

from Walter Smith. Bougherra then went on a mazy run from the

halfway line, dodging a string of United players, before sending a

low shot into the back of the net and seal an emphatic 7-1 win with

five minutes to go.