Jelavic and Edu Secure Controversial Rangers Win

It did not take long.

Nikica Jelavic and Maurice Edu secure controversial win for Rangers On the fourth weekend of the Scottish Premier League campaign, an explosion of the kind of controversy that dogged last season broke out in the Highlands. Only time will tell if this is a sign of things to come.

Inverness were the aggrieved party. Their manager, Terry Butcher, was enraged after Rangers were awarded two penalty kicks, at least one of which was questionable.

Nikica Jelavic sent the visitors into the lead with that; another spot-kick, which looked soft if technically correct, resulted in Maurice Edu slotting home a rebound to seal Rangers' victory.

"The second one was nowhere near a penalty and I didn't think the first one was, either," said a clearly irate Butcher.

In the first case, Ross Tokely challenged Steven Naismith in a forceful, but seemingly fair, manner. To add to Inverness's anger, Tokely was shown a red card by the referee, Euan Norris, for preventing a scoring opportunity.

"We feel very hard done by," added Butcher. "We are getting to the stage where we are not allowed to make tackles. It's like ballet.

"Aren't we going to allow tackles in the box now? Amazing."

Regarding the second penalty award, Butcher's ire would be better directed towards Tom Aldred. Albeit Rangers' Dorin Goian made the most of it, Aldred needlessly made contact with his opponent as he raced away from goal. It was the assistant referee, rather than Norris, who made that call.

Butcher represented quite a touchline sight, with arms flaying everywhere. Eventually, and unsurprisingly, he received a quiet word of warning from Norris. The pair left the field in deep conversation at the end of the game. The home players had surrounded Norris as Tokely headed for the dressing room.

For good measure, Edu ensured the match finished as a 10-a-side contest after collecting a second caution, 15 minutes from time.

Ally McCoist, the Rangers manager, admitted the first penalty "might have been soft", but insisted his team should have been given a first-half opportunity to score from 12 yards. McCoist cited a handball by Tokely as the reason for that stancehis reason. "There were plenty of talking points today," McCoist said. "But I think the biggest one is that Rangers deserved to win and did win."

The reality is that Rangers, who have said they will not continue their pursuit of Aston Villa's Carlos Cuellar, seemed to be running short of ideas before Norris had one of his own. An entertaining first half had failed to produce a goal, with the hosts giving every bit as good as their more illustrious opponents.

McCoist needed little reminding of the awkward nature of this fixture, given Inverness's history of troubling both halves of the Old Firm. In May, Celtic's title challenge was spectacularly halted here.

Jelavic had the ball in the net after three minutes, only for the strike to be ruled out for offside. The Inverness midfielder Aaron Doran then shot tamely at Allan McGregor when an opportunity was there to take further touches.

Butcher's men came within inches of opening the scoring, two minutes before the interval. Richie Foran only narrowly failed to meet a fine Doran cross, with any sort of touch all that was required to beat McGregor.

The second half, hitherto flat, burst into life when Tokely clashed with Naismith. There seemed no doubt the defender took some of the ball in his challenge, with Norris convinced too much of Naismith was tackled for it to be legal. Few onlookers agreed with the match official; Naismith and his team-mates didn't even vociferously appeal at the time.

Jelavic wasn't hanging around for a debate, the Croat sending the spot-kick past Ryan Esson. The Rangers striker was less successful eight minutes later, Esson, this time, producing an excellent one-handed save before Edu stepped forward to claim the loose ball.

Edu, earlier booked for a late tackle on Tokely, was similarly slow in reaching the Inverness substitute, Nick Ross. This time, there could be no argument about the legitimacy of Norris's decision.

Naismith shot wide and Davis shanked a close-range effort as Rangers looked to put Inverness out of sight. In a game in which the first goal had always appeared to be crucial, there never appeared much chance of Inverness punishing that profligacy.

Powered by article was written by Ewan Murray at Caledonian Stadium, for The Observer on Saturday 13th August 2011 16.10 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

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