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NST Online: Sports

Rangers move one step closer to title

Posted: 07 May 2011 11:26 AM PDT

GLASGOW: Rangers took a massive step towards defending their Scottish Premier League title after opening up a four-point gap on rivals Celtic with a comfortable 4-0 win over ten-men Hearts at Ibrox yesterday.

New Rangers owner Craig Whyte, who bought former chairman Sir David Murray's controlling share in the club on Friday, watched from the stands as his side raced into a 3-0 half-time lead through goals from Nikica Jelavic, Kyle Lafferty and Steven Davis.

Hearts' Eggert Jonsson was shown a straight red just after the hour mark for a crude challenge on Jelavic before a Ryan Stevenson own goal in the 83rd minute sealed the win.

Celtic have the chance to close the gap when they face Kilmarnock away today but Rangers are now just two wins away from their third successive SPL championship.

Rangers manager Walter Smith was delighted with the manner of his side's win.

"I felt both teams started very well in the game and it was quite an open match," said Smith, who is retiring at the end of the season.

"Once we got the first goal that settled us a little and when we got the second we went on and played extremely well after that limiting Hearts to few opportunities in the game."

Jim Jefferies felt his side had been unlucky to find themselves so far behind at the break.

"Credit to Rangers they took their chances when they came along. That is the difference if you get the first goal," the Hearts boss said.

"Any chance we had of getting back in the game was ended by, for me, a bad decision to send Jonsson off."

Rangers stuck to the same starting 11 for the third match running with Lee McCulloch claiming a place on the bench after a long injury layoff.

RESULTS: Aberdeen 0 St Johnstone 2, Dundee United 4 Motherwell 0, Hamilton 1 Hibernian 0, Inverness CT 1 St Mirren 0, Rangers 4 Hearts 0. -- AFP

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Leaders keep race exciting

Posted: 07 May 2011 11:26 AM PDT

By Devinder Singh

THERE is little room for error in the tight Super League title battle as both Kelantan and Selangor successfully came through tricky home games on Friday.

Kelantan did not let a disputed disallowed goal distract them in a 2-0 win over Kedah in Kota Baru while Selangor survived a few anxious moments as they edged Johor FC 3-2 in Shah Alam.

With eight games remaining, Kelantan lead Selangor on goal difference with both sides on 39 points while Terengganu are a point behind after romping past Kuala Lumpur 4-0 in Kuala Terengganu.

Norshahrul Idlan Talaha had an early effort ruled out for offside but Kelantan hit back in the second half as substitute Khalid Jamlus proved to be a livewire by scrambling in the first goal and setting up the second for S. Chanturu.

It was just reward for Kelantan whose domination of the game probably deserved more than two goals, according to coach M. Karathu.

"We had a lot possession in the first half and were dominating the game. We played well and deserved the goals which came in the second half," said Karathu.

Kelantan will be looking to maintain their position at the top of the standings when they travel to Paroi on Tuesday to face Negri Sembilan while Selangor are away to Kedah tomorrow.

The top two will clash in an eagerly awaited FA Cup semi-final tie on Thursday and May 16 but Selangor coach K. Devan is looking no further than tomorrow's trip to Alor Star.

"We are going to Alor Star if possible to pick up the three points and at the very least get a draw. It is only after that can we focus on the FA Cup," said Devan after nervously watching his side stave off Johor FC at the Shah Alam Stadium.

Kedah and Perak, who were threatening to gate-crash the title race, have fallen by the wayside after picking up just one point in their last two matches.

Perak coach Norizan Bakar said with games coming up so quickly, there is little time to recover which resulted in his team losing steam in a 0-0 draw with Pahang at the Perak Stadium in Ipoh.

"We will be playing again on Monday when we go to Shah Alam to face Young Tigers A. I'll have to take a look at my players and see who to rest and if anyone needs to recuperate," said Norizan.

Young Tigers, who did not have a match last Tuesday, appeared to benefit little from the rest in a lacklustre 2-0 defeat to Felda United in Cheras.

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