Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Maurice Edu and DaMarcus Beasley saw their hopes for a Rangers triple Scottish crown come to a crashing halt in a final minute loss to Dundee United on Wednesday evening at Tannadice Park.
Both Edu and Beasley got the nod from head coach Walter Smith in the Rangers starting 11 with Edu anchoring the defensive midfield and Beasley playing out wide on the left wing.
The disappointing and frustrating defeat came just three days after Rangers registered one of their gutsiest wins of the year when they downed St. Mirren with just nine men in the Scottish League Cup final.
In the meetings between the Light Blues and United this year, Rangers held a decisive edge outscoring the Taysiders by a total of 13-4.
But that was all put aside seconds after the opening whistle as the hosts were out to make the defending cup champions an upset victim.
A flurry of shots on goal were produced by United but none really ever tested Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor.
Edu and Beasley began finding their rythm and each drew a foul within minutes of each other midway through the first half.
Smith elected to go with a more inexperienced pairing up front giving John Fleck and Andrew Little starting spots instead of the usuals Kris Boyd and Kenny Miller.
The move to give his leading scorers some rest following Sunday's League Cup final backfired and the visitors were never able to find the back of the net.
At the 75th minute mark, Smith brought in Miller for Kyle Lafferty who had picked up an injury and the Rangers offensive attack instantly gathered steam.
Six minutes later a streaking Beasley gathered in a pass down the left side and crossed for Nacho Novo but United goalkeeper Dusan Pernis deflected the cross out of danger much to the chagrin of the Spanish midfielder.
In the 87th minute United thought they had the gamewinner but David Goodwillie was ruled offsides by the linesman which enraged the fans of the Arabs.
But their spirits would be lifted two minutes later when David Robertson took advantage of an McGregor error to score the game's only goal.
An awkward lob into the area forced McGregor to come off his line, but the reaction from the netminder was delayed and when he attempted the deflect the ball out of the area, Robertson was just inches away and the ball mishit off the United man's leg and trickled into the goal.
Rangers desperately tried to find a stoppage time equalizer and brought on Scottish Premier League leading scorer Kris Boyd as a reinforcement.
But the only real threat came from a free kick that Beasley served into the area which was then headed by Danny Wilson into the arms of Pernis.
The defeat is just the second one for Rangers on the season in all Scottish competitions and spoils the chance for the Glasgow club to repeat as Cup champions.
Edu and Beasley will look to return to their winning ways this weekend when they face Hearts.