Last-gasp Saints deny Rangers

The Scottish champions had looked on course to move 12 points clear

of Celtic when Nikica Jelavic opened the scoring early in the

second half. But Ally McCoist’s men were stunned when Saints hit

back deep in injury time as former Rangers striker Steven Thompson

grabbed a late leveller to ensure a share of the points. Rangers

made two changes from the side who defeated Hibernian before the

international break for the visit of St Mirren. Sasa Papac was

ruled out with a sinus problem and Alejandro Bedoya was dropped

from the squad, as Lee Wallace and Steven Naismith – back from

suspension – both started. Saints made one change from the side who

lost to Inverness in their last outing, with Kenny McLean starting

and Gary Teale dropping to the bench. Rangers started strongly and

Kyle Lafferty tested Craig Samson early on with a close-range

volley from a Gregg Wylde corner that the goalkeeper did well to

block. Another flag-kick, this time from Steven Davis, found

Maurice Edu in the packed box and the American bulleted a powerful

header just past the post. Jelavic then collected from Naismith and

tried to find Lafferty in the box for the header but the move was

read by Samson who intercepted and gathered before the Northern

Irishman could make contact. At the other end, Nigel Hasselbaink

picked up the first booking of the game from referee Crawford Allan

for diving after taking a tumble just outside the box under

pressure from Steven Whittaker. With time fast running out to find

a goal before the interval, Davis played a one-two with Wylde and

surged into the box only to drill past the upright, with Samson

untroubled. Rangers fans perked up thanks to Paul Gascoigne’s

half-time appearance, which earned him a rapturous reception, as he

told Rangers fans “the best football I ever played in my life was

here at Ibrox” and that he wished he could pull his boots on again

and help the team out. The legendary player perhaps proved to be an

inspiration to the current team who opened the scoring just three

minutes after the restart when Lafferty did well to retain

possession before setting up Jelavic for the shot from 12 yards.

Saints tried to haul themselves back into the game and Thompson

found himself through on goal before Whittaker made an impressive

saving tackle to deny the visitors a quick leveller. Naismith then

whipped a tempting pass to the feet of Jelavic who looked certain

to claim his second of the day from just six yards out only to look

on in disbelief as his shot cannoned off the legs of Samson.

Rangers were keen to snuff out any hope of a late Saints comeback

but Samson was up to the task again, this time to block a Davis

effort from just inside the box. The visitors piled forward in the

final minutes and could have hit back through Jeroen Tesselaar but

goalkeeper Allan McGregor was able to block at his near post. But

McGregor was unable to prevent Thompson netting an injury-time

equaliser when he fired home from a David van Zanten cross to earn

the Paisley side a share of the points.