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‘Inefficiency & luck’ costs Rangers in Dundee draw

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Philippe Clement insists Rangers “still have our fate in our hands” despite suffering a second blow to their Scottish Premiership title hopes within three days as they were held to a goalless draw away to Dundee.

On top of Sunday’s 3-2 defeat by Ross County, Clement’s side have now squandered their two games in hand over Celtic and are now three points adrift of the reigning champions.

Dundee had an early strike from Amadou Bakayoko ruled out for offside, while the closest Rangers came to scoring was when Jon McCracken saved superbly from Cyriel Dessers as mental pressure mounted on the visitors.

Clement, though, insisted: “It was nothing to do with focus, desire or will. It was to do with a lack of efficiency, some luck as well.”

Rangers nevertheless have now only won two of their latest eight games and will almost certainly have to win at Celtic Park for the first time since 2020 if they are to prevent their city rivals retaining the title.

“I don’t speak about favourites,” Clement told BBC Scotland. “If we win the last five games, the fans are going to be happy.”

Meanwhile, Dundee have built on clinching their first top-six finish since 2015 at the weekend by moving to within two points of St Mirren to improve their hopes of European qualification for the first time since 2003.

Clement said before kick-off that his side needed a return to basics that were missing in that defeat in Dingwall.

However, within seconds of kick-off, Bakayoko was allowed to turn and send in a cross that fell to Malachi Boateng, with the midfielder’s low drive flying just wide of the far post.

Dundee lost captain Joe Shaughnessy to injury after nine minutes and were immediately caught out at the back as Abdallah Sima’s low drive was blocked by McCracken’s legs.

That first threat on goal failed to settle the visitors and, when Jack Butland parried Luke McCowan’s curling free-kick, Scott Tiffoney’s shot on the rebound off the Rangers goalkeeper was turned in by Bakayoko but ruled out for offside.

Even when Rangers began to enjoy the majority of ball, the closest they came to a goal before the break was a Connor Goldson header straight at McCracken that the goalkeeper gathered at the second attempt with no visiting player taking advantage.

McCracken blocked a Tom Lawrence shot at the front post, while substitute Dessers forced the goalkeeper into a fine finger-tip save.

Rangers were now showing signs of desperation and the night threatened to go from bad to worse as home midfielder Lyall Cameron had a shot blocked in front of goal.

As it was, time ran out not only on their hopes of grabbing a late winner but also seemingly on their hopes of denying Celtic another title.

Player of the match – Lyall Cameron (Dundee)

Lyall Cameron just shaded it from livewire midfield team-mate Luke McCowan as they proved a handful for their Rangers counterparts

Title dreams crumble as Euro hopes rise – analysis

For the second game in a row, a stranger to Scottish football would have had difficulty picking out this Rangers team as the title contenders.

Dundee’s tigerish midfield appeared to have too much energy for their Rangers counterparts and, although Rangers gradually dominated the possession, it was laboured and lacking the creativity required to break down a well-organised home defence.

Clement had handed injury troubled Kemar Roofe a first start since December in place of Cyriel Dessers up front, but the Jamaica international looked too lightweight and lacking match fitness to trouble a Dundee defence seeking a second clean sheet in a row.

Rangers have gone from a position where they could have been two points ahead of Celtic by winning their two games in hand to one where, even if they win the final Old Firm derby of the season away to their city rivals, they will be behind on goal difference should both sides win their other four remaining games.

While the pressure looks to have been too great for Rangers to handle, Dundee have risen to the occasion in recent weeks with only one defeat in six outings.

Rangers had won their previous eight meetings between the sides by a 22-2 aggregate, with Dundee last avoiding defeat in December 2018.

However, these Dark Blues are a different beast under Tony Docherty and, despite it being their first season back in the top flight, have every right to be dreaming of bringing European nights back to Dens Park.

After two postponements because of the state of their pitch, the home fans will feel this was a game well worth waiting for.

What they said

Dundee manager Tony Docherty: “I thought it was a fantastic team performance. The clean sheets in the last two games show the progression we are making as a team.

“We have a strong, resilient team there with a laser focus on each game. Going into a pivotal time in the season, we have a squad that are growing and growing.”

Rangers manager Philippe Clement: “We should have won this game, we were the best team by far. The most possession by far, the most chances. Things didn’t go our side with saves from the goalkeeper and blocks from other players.

“Today, I was disappointed. I was angry after the Ross County game because we lost our structure and our football in a big part of the game. That was not the case today.”

What’s next?

Rangers face Heart of Midlothian in Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park (15:00) then return to Premiership duty by visiting St Mirren on 28 April (12:30) before Dundee host leaders Celtic later than afternoon (15:00).

Player of the match

McCowanLuke McCowan

Dundee

  1. Squad number17Player nameMcCowan

  2. Squad number22Player nameMcCracken

  3. Squad number10Player nameCameron

  4. Squad number3Player nameDodgson

  5. Squad number28Player nameSylla

  6. Squad number7Player nameTiffoney

  7. Squad number6Player nameMcGhee

  8. Squad number23Player nameBoateng

  9. Squad number9Player nameBakayoko

  10. Squad number12Player nameLamie

  11. Squad number29Player namePortales

  12. Squad number5Player nameShaughnessy

  13. Squad number8Player nameMain

  14. Squad number44Player nameCostelloe

Rangers

  1. Squad number1Player nameButland

  2. Squad number5Player nameSouttar

  3. Squad number21Player nameSterling

  4. Squad number45Player nameMcCausland

  5. Squad number19Player nameSima

  6. Squad number17Player nameMatondo

  7. Squad number9Player nameDessers

  8. Squad number11Player nameLawrence

  9. Squad number20Player nameDowell

  10. Squad number2Player nameTavernier

  11. Squad number25Player nameRoofe

  12. Squad number13Player nameCantwell

  13. Squad number6Player nameGoldson

  14. Squad number4Player nameLundstram

  15. Squad number7Player nameFábio Silva

Line-ups

Dundee

Formation 4-1-3-2

  • 22McCracken
  • 6McGhee
  • 5ShaughnessySubstituted forPortalesat 10′minutes
  • 12Lamie
  • 3DodgsonBooked at 90mins
  • 28Sylla
  • 10Cameron
  • 23Boateng
  • 17McCowan
  • 9BakayokoSubstituted forMainat 63′minutes
  • 7TiffoneySubstituted forCostelloeat 63′minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Astley
  • 8Main
  • 15Mulligan
  • 19Robertson
  • 25Donnelly
  • 26Mellon
  • 29Portales
  • 31Carson
  • 44Costelloe

Rangers

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Butland
  • 2Tavernier
  • 6Goldson
  • 5Souttar
  • 21Sterling
  • 11Lawrence
  • 4Lundstram
  • 19SimaSubstituted forMcCauslandat 79′minutes
  • 13CantwellSubstituted forDowellat 56′minutes
  • 7Fábio SilvaSubstituted forMatondoat 56′minutes
  • 25RoofeSubstituted forDessersat 56′minutes

Substitutes

  • 9Dessers
  • 17Matondo
  • 20Dowell
  • 26Davies
  • 28McCrorie
  • 31Barisic
  • 38King
  • 43Raskin
  • 45McCausland

Referee:
Don Robertson

Attendance:
9,010

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