Rangers clinches third straight title with 5-1 win

BY foxsports • May 15, 2011

Rangers clinched a third straight Scottish league title by a single point Sunday with a 5-1 win at Kilmarnock on the last day of the season.

Second-place Celtic needed its fierce rival to draw or lose to have any chance of winning the championship, but Rangers scored three times in the first seven minutes to end all uncertainty and give manager Walter Smith victory in his final match in charge.

"It's for the club, it's not for me," Smith said. "Everything you do is for the club."

It was Smith's 10th title in two spells in charge of Rangers, putting him second only to Bill Struth, who amassed 18 league championships before retiring in 1954.

Smith, who will be succeeded by assistant Ally McCoist next season, said he could not pick a favorite.

"You can't pick and choose any of them; I'm just delighted Rangers managed to win," Smith said. "I'll go and have a wee drink now, I think."

Kyle Lafferty opened the scoring after 47 seconds, Steven Naismith made it 2-0 and Lafferty struck again to build an unassailable early lead. Nikica Jelavic scored at the start of the second half and Lafferty completed his hat trick in the 53rd as Rangers stretched its record to 54 titles.

Celtic beat visiting Motherwell 4-0, while Dundee United beat third-place Hearts 2-1 in Sunday's other match.

Lafferty lobbed the ball from the edge of the box and over stretching goalkeeper Cammy Bell into the back of the net, Naismith turned and fired in a shot for 2-0 and Jelavic set up Lafferty to side-foot past Bell.

Jelavic then lashed a 49th-minute free kick into the top corner and Lafferty poked the ball in from about 10 meters (yards) to make it 5-0 before Kilmarnock got a goal back.

Gary Hooper, Georgios Samaras, Shaun Maloney and Paddy McCourt gave Celtic the win it needed to have any chance of overhauling its Glasgow rival - but their team missed out on a 42nd title largely because of last week's surprise 3-2 defeat against Inverness.

Hooper scored from a rebound after his initial turn and shot was blocked, and Samaras struck five minutes before halftime with a side-foot shot from Charlie Mulgrew's cross. Maloney scored a solo goal in the 53rd and McCourt made it 4-0.

But Celtic could still finish the season with a trophy when it plays Motherwell again in Saturday's Scottish Cup final.


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