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Celtic midfielder Nir Bitton takes step back into defence ahead of ultimate test against PSG in Champions League

Nir Bitton was not called upon to endure the painful experience of facing Paris St-Germain when they inflicted a 5-0 home defeat on Celtic in the Champions League group stage tie in September but on Wednesday he could be called upon to stand against the fearsome trio of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappé when the teams meet again in the French capital. That prospect is not lightened by the fact that Bitton has been operating as a makeshift centre-back, a role that has seen him draw fire from critics who regard the Israel international midfielder as a risk at the heart of the back line. He was allotted the task because of injuries to Jozo Simunovic and Erik Sviatchenko, both of whom are now back in training. The Celtic manager, Brendan Rodgers, however, praised Bitton after his side's 1-0 win against Ross County in Dingwall on Saturday, when he said: “This guy gets slated for not being a centre-half, but I haven’t seen one better outside of Celtic [in the SPFL].” When Rodgers’ comment was subsequently relayed to Bitton, the 26-year-old grinned. “I told you a few weeks ago I’m a £50 million player,” he said. “No, I am trying to do my best and still trying to learn the position. “I don’t know if you see it but Dedryck Boyata is talking to me all through the game. I don’t know if he has lost his voice by now. He is trying to help and guide me. “I haven’t played centre midfield for a long time now. If the gaffer thinks I deserve to play centre back, that’s what I will do. If he thinks I should play as goalkeeper, that’s what I will do. I am enjoying it, I am enjoying my football and winning and I am just trying to keep that going.” Beating Spurs is Arsenal's Cup final 39:00 Recent performances have revealed a more assertive streak to Bitton in his newly-acquired incarnation. “I don’t know if it’s more aggression but as a centre-back you need to jump, you need to be strong, you need to press the strikers,” he said. “For football players it’s all about confidence. When you get confidence from the manager and from the players around you, you can do things you didn’t do before, but it’s still an early stage for me as a centre-back and I’m still trying to learn the position. I’m trying to be better and there are a lot of things to do.” Should Bitton be called upon to go in against the might of the PSG front three, he will have no illusions about the magnitude of the task. “In every respect Wednesday is going to be different conditions from the game at Ross County – very different players and maybe the best front three in the world right now. “You just need to face it and you just need to enjoy it as much as you can. Everybody knows that PSG are better than Celtic but we need to compete and show that we deserve to play at this level and hopefully we will do that. “When you play against Neymar, Mbappé, Cavani – it doesn’t matter who plays there – you need to make no mistakes and compete and, if we do that, hopefully Wednesday will be another kind of game. With Aberdeen held to a home draw by Motherwell and Rangers and Hibernian losing at home to Hamilton Academical and St Johnstone respectively, Celtic are now six points clear at the top of the SPFL Premiership ahead of next Sunday’s meeting with Motherwell in the Betfred Scottish League Cup final at Hampden Park.

Brendan Rodgers looks to January transfer window in preparation for busy summer

The World Cup and Champions League will combine to give Brendan Rodgers a headache next summer when the Celtic manager must address the overlap of two competitions involving his players. Tom Rogic, Cristian Gamboa and Mikael Lustig are set to be at the World Cup finals with Australia, Costa Rica and Sweden respectively, while Erik Sviatchenko could also be in Russia with Denmark if he regains a place in the squad after his injury lay-off. The finals get under way on June 14 and end on July 15, but changes to the Champions League qualifying process mean that Celtic are likely to be involved in that tournament’s first round on July 10 or 11, and Rodgers has to ensure he has resources at right-back, where both Lustig and Gamboa play. “It is the way it is,” he said. “We have to prepare for that in the next window to ensure we’re covered. Gambo and Lustig are both right-sided defensive players, so that’s going to be a key area because we don’t want to be short. “We will manage our schedule accordingly. We do have Tony Ralston who is here and so I think we cover, but it is an area we need to consider going through the summer. “We have been short in certain areas over the last two summers, so January is a bid window for us if we feel we need to do something. “It [the Champions League schedule] is punishing to say the least, with eight games in as many weeks. Normally, you get a wee breather in there. There are the other games you need to play to get fit, and the league might be up and running, so it’s certainly not made any easier for the team which is trying to qualify.” Lustiq is expected to be in the Sweden squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia Credit: Getty Images In the meantime, World Cup qualification for the lucky trio has had a positive knock-on effect, according to Rodgers. “I think there is a real good-feel factor there. Everyone is happy for them,” he said. “You would have seen Mikael’s celebrations in the week, and he’s come back full of enthusiasm. That’s contagious, and it goes around the group. “Tom Rogic? God, if anybody deserves to be at the World Cup it’s him, given how far he’s had to travel – constantly all around tKhe world. Cristian Gamboa will be there as well, and if Erik Sviatchenko gets into Danish squad the second part of the season, then there’s a chance for him as well.” Celtic, of course, have immediate business in this season’s Champions League when they meet Paris Saint-Germain in Paris on Wednesday. The Scottish champions cannot make the knockout stage but remain favourites to claim the Europa League spot ahead of Anderlecht and, although they lost 2-1 at home to Bayern Munich in their previous outing, Rodgers saw improvement in his players’ performance. “We performed very well in that game but didn’t get the result, so we can learn from that,” he said. “There were lots of great moments in that game, but our frustration was that from when we scored, there were three minutes till they went ahead again and what’s so important in the 10 minutes after you score is you keep the ball as much as you can. That was our only downfall. We gave everything in the game. We defended well, we came from being behind and got level and with 15 minutes to go, we have a great chance of getting a result. But after we scored, we gave the ball away three times and didn’t press as hard as we normally would. “Then all of a sudden, you are 2-1 behind, so that’s typical of the lessons that we are finding out all the time. At this level, it’s not so much about the possession you have, it’s about dangerous possession. “Can you show the personality and confidence to show you belong on that stage? These teams, PSG and Bayern Munich, are expected to go all the way in the competition. “So realistically, it is tough for us. The question on Wednesday is can we play our game and improve?” Celtic were in Dingwall for yesterday’s lunchtime meeting with Ross County, seeking a 64th successive domestic fixture unbeaten. Although they were dominant from first to last, the Scottish Premiership leaders had to wait until the 75th minute to secure their victory when Leigh Griffiths, a late substitute, struck one of his trademark free kicks from 25 yards to beat Aaron McCarey, on the occasion of left-back Kieran Tierney’s 100th appearance for Celtic. A good afternoon for Celtic got even better as the chasing pack were all defeated in the 3pm kick-offs. League Cup finalists Motherwell –who will contest the first silverware of the season against Celtic at Hampden a week today – secured an excellent 2-0 win in Aberdeen with a Louis Moult double. Hibernian were beaten 2-1 at home when Steven MacLean scored for St Johnstone with the last kick of the game. Most surprisingly, Rangers lost at home to Hamilton for the first time in the league for 91 years as goals by David Templeton and Darren Taylor made history at Ibrox. Elsewhere, Dundee and Kilmarnock saw out a 0-0 draw at Dens Park.

Brendan Rodgers looks to January transfer window in preparation for busy summer

The World Cup and Champions League will combine to give Brendan Rodgers a headache next summer when the Celtic manager must address the overlap of two competitions involving his players. Tom Rogic, Cristian Gamboa and Mikael Lustig are set to be at the World Cup finals with Australia, Costa Rica and Sweden respectively, while Erik Sviatchenko could also be in Russia with Denmark if he regains a place in the squad after his injury lay-off. The finals get under way on June 14 and end on July 15, but changes to the Champions League qualifying process mean that Celtic are likely to be involved in that tournament’s first round on July 10 or 11, and Rodgers has to ensure he has resources at right-back, where both Lustig and Gamboa play. “It is the way it is,” he said. “We have to prepare for that in the next window to ensure we’re covered. Gambo and Lustig are both right-sided defensive players, so that’s going to be a key area because we don’t want to be short. “We will manage our schedule accordingly. We do have Tony Ralston who is here and so I think we cover, but it is an area we need to consider going through the summer. “We have been short in certain areas over the last two summers, so January is a bid window for us if we feel we need to do something. “It [the Champions League schedule] is punishing to say the least, with eight games in as many weeks. Normally, you get a wee breather in there. There are the other games you need to play to get fit, and the league might be up and running, so it’s certainly not made any easier for the team which is trying to qualify.” Lustiq is expected to be in the Sweden squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia Credit: Getty Images In the meantime, World Cup qualification for the lucky trio has had a positive knock-on effect, according to Rodgers. “I think there is a real good-feel factor there. Everyone is happy for them,” he said. “You would have seen Mikael’s celebrations in the week, and he’s come back full of enthusiasm. That’s contagious, and it goes around the group. “Tom Rogic? God, if anybody deserves to be at the World Cup it’s him, given how far he’s had to travel – constantly all around tKhe world. Cristian Gamboa will be there as well, and if Erik Sviatchenko gets into Danish squad the second part of the season, then there’s a chance for him as well.” Celtic, of course, have immediate business in this season’s Champions League when they meet Paris Saint-Germain in Paris on Wednesday. The Scottish champions cannot make the knockout stage but remain favourites to claim the Europa League spot ahead of Anderlecht and, although they lost 2-1 at home to Bayern Munich in their previous outing, Rodgers saw improvement in his players’ performance. “We performed very well in that game but didn’t get the result, so we can learn from that,” he said. “There were lots of great moments in that game, but our frustration was that from when we scored, there were three minutes till they went ahead again and what’s so important in the 10 minutes after you score is you keep the ball as much as you can. That was our only downfall. We gave everything in the game. We defended well, we came from being behind and got level and with 15 minutes to go, we have a great chance of getting a result. But after we scored, we gave the ball away three times and didn’t press as hard as we normally would. “Then all of a sudden, you are 2-1 behind, so that’s typical of the lessons that we are finding out all the time. At this level, it’s not so much about the possession you have, it’s about dangerous possession. “Can you show the personality and confidence to show you belong on that stage? These teams, PSG and Bayern Munich, are expected to go all the way in the competition. “So realistically, it is tough for us. The question on Wednesday is can we play our game and improve?” Celtic were in Dingwall for yesterday’s lunchtime meeting with Ross County, seeking a 64th successive domestic fixture unbeaten. Although they were dominant from first to last, the Scottish Premiership leaders had to wait until the 75th minute to secure their victory when Leigh Griffiths, a late substitute, struck one of his trademark free kicks from 25 yards to beat Aaron McCarey, on the occasion of left-back Kieran Tierney’s 100th appearance for Celtic. A good afternoon for Celtic got even better as the chasing pack were all defeated in the 3pm kick-offs. League Cup finalists Motherwell –who will contest the first silverware of the season against Celtic at Hampden a week today – secured an excellent 2-0 win in Aberdeen with a Louis Moult double. Hibernian were beaten 2-1 at home when Steven MacLean scored for St Johnstone with the last kick of the game. Most surprisingly, Rangers lost at home to Hamilton for the first time in the league for 91 years as goals by David Templeton and Darren Taylor made history at Ibrox. Elsewhere, Dundee and Kilmarnock saw out a 0-0 draw at Dens Park.

Scottish clubs set national charity records, with SPFL now 'fourth most community-focused league in the world'

Scottish football has not been at the top table of international competition for 20 years – hence the SFA’s urgent desire to find a manager with the Midas touch – but the country’s clubs have never been more successful at providing aid to charities and worthy causes in their communities. Independent research commissioned by the Scottish Professional Football League has revealed that 770,000 local people – an annual increase of over 60,000 - have been engaged in community initiatives involving all 42 league clubs. The research also found that season ticket holders were well served by making a commitment to back their team throughout the campaign. Headline figures show that clubs engaged with approximately 772,000 people via community activity in season 2016/17, many supported by programmes run and organised by the SPFL Trust, the charitable arm of the league. Around 86 per cent of all clubs provide free tickets to matches for community groups, charities and other worthy causes, with an estimated total of 84,000 donated last season. The number of clubs offering free admission to children has risen to 62 per cent, up 5 per cent on last year’s figure.      The average maximum saving for supporters across all four divisions buying a 2017/18 season ticket is £96.20, when compared with paying at the gate. Attendance figures also told an encouraging story, with total crowds for the four Ladbrokes divisions exceeding four million in season 2016/17, a 12 per cent increase year on year, while almost a quarter of a million supporters attended the first two matches of the 2017/18 season to set a new record for the SPFL. Nicky Reid, chief executive of the SPFL Trust, said: “The recent Responsiball annual report now places the SPFL as the fourth most community-focused league in the world, based on their analysis of the 25 biggest national competitions. “A rise of three places year on year, shows that this is an area of significant strength and opportunity for Scottish football.  In the past year, the SPFL Trust and our clubs have been trusted to work on projects funded by the Scottish Government, Big Lottery Fund, Erasmus, Scottish Water, Kinder+Sport, and the SPFL itself amongst others.  “Our Trusted Trophy Tour also visited more than 20 clubs and demonstrated the power that football has for good across a wide range of projects. Trust is hard-earned and we all accept the responsibilities that come with that, but the direction of travel is extremely positive.” The SFA, meanwhile, announced that its Elite club football academies are Aberdeen, Celtic, Hamilton, Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Kilmarnock, Motherwell and Rangers. The second-tier Progressive grade consists of Ayr United, Dundee United, Forth Valley, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Partick Thistle, Ross County,St Mirren and St Johnstone. The third-tier Progressive level academies are Dundee, Fife, Greenock Morton and Queen’s Park. Scottish FA Performance Director Malky Mackay said: “What I would like to stress is that the bandings are not fixed and they will be reassessed in June 2018. No door is closed to clubs outside of the Elite bracket with aspirations to move up.”

Celtic make history as 4-0 win over St Johnstone takes unbeaten record to 63

Celtic on Saturday surpassed the century-old UK record for successive unbeaten domestic matches when they extended their sequence to 63 games with a straightforward victory over St Johnstone in Perth, where Scott Sinclair set them on their way to a 4-0 win. By a quixotic twist of fortune, the record that was set against St Johnstone got under way in the aftermath of a 2-1 defeat at McDiarmid Park on May 11, 2016 when Ronny Deila was still in charge in the east end of Glasgow. The Celtic management team have consistently asserted that the accumulation of unbeaten outings has not featured in team talks, but its significance was underlined on this occasion by the selection of the same players who started in Tuesday’s match against Bayern Munich in the Champions League group stage meeting at Parkhead. Saints had no such comfort, having failed to score since their 2-1 home victory over Hamilton Academical on Sept 23. An unfortunate susceptibility to injury contributed to that melancholy record and the casualty list was again a factor, with Tommy Wright forced to operate without Murray Davidson and Brian Easton, while Michael O’Halloran was judged to have only sufficient fitness for a place on the bench. One of those restored to the home side was Steven MacLean, who was swiftly afforded two tantalising glimpses of goal because of hesitancy by Nir Bitton. The Israeli midfielder, acting once more as a stopgap central defender, was ambushed by the Saints striker on the edge of the Celtic box but managed to retrieve possession before damage could be inflicted. Bitton was fortunate again when he let a dropping ball bounce in front of him, but again MacLean was unable to take advantage. The St Johnstone forward nearly made amends with an audacious lob from 40 yards which almost caught Craig Gordon off his line, but the effort went just over the top. Celtic had not displayed much menace despite controlling 75 per cent of possession but they made the breakthrough with a corner kick straight from the training ground with which Stuart Armstrong found Scott Sinclair alone inside the box for a rising shot to net his 11th goal of the campaign. After the break, a header off the line by Aaron Comrie denied Dedryck Boyata what would have been Celtic’s second, but the progression was merely postponed until the 72nd minute, when Moussa Dembele flicked an Armstrong cutback past Zander Clark, before contributing with a cutback of his own which was turned in by Steven Anderson. The rout was completed by Olivier Ntcham with a shot from the edge of the box to make it 4-0. Olivier Ntcham wrapped up the scoring with Celtic's fourth with a minute of normal time remaining Credit: Getty Images Elsewhere, Graeme Murty, Rangers’ caretaker manager and coach of the club’s under-20s, admitted that he had thought about leaving Ibrox if he is not offered the vacant manager’s job. However, Murty, who has been asked by the Rangers directors to take charge of the first team twice this year – first when Mark Warburton left in March and then when Pedro Caixinha departed last month – asserted that he had more to gain from staying in place than by taking a manager’s job at a smaller outfit. “I’ve been thinking about that one for a while - not at the moment,” he said. “I’m in possibly the best learning environment that I’ve been in, personally and professionally. “If the board ask someone else to come in and I was to go back to the under-20s, I wouldn’t think about that. If I was to go back to the under-20s, I have a fantastic project there that I can get my teeth into. “Potentially, that is how we make up ground but, however we do it, the club is structured and geared and driving towards making that gap non-existent. We want to be challenging right at the top and experiencing some fantastic European evenings. “The players have an opportunity. All I see at the moment is potential, and a pathway that is there for them to go and play in the Rangers first-team as a player. If the player is good enough, if they are driven enough, if they are hungry enough, that is what they have to be. “The bottom line is that they won’t get any special dispensation because they are home-grown. They will get special dispensation if they are good, good players.” Murty kept up his good record as interim with Rangers achieving a 3-0 win over Partick Thistle at Ibrox on Saturday that included a first goal for the club for young defender Ross McCrorie. Daniel Candeias and Josh Windass also netted. Hamilton held Aberdeen 2-2, with Hibernian now two points behind Derek McInnes’s side after a 2-1 victory against bottom-placed Dundee. Ross County triumphed 3-2 at home versus Motherwell. 

Celtic make history as 4-0 win over St Johnstone takes unbeaten record to 63

Celtic on Saturday surpassed the century-old UK record for successive unbeaten domestic matches when they extended their sequence to 63 games with a straightforward victory over St Johnstone in Perth, where Scott Sinclair set them on their way to a 4-0 win. By a quixotic twist of fortune, the record that was set against St Johnstone got under way in the aftermath of a 2-1 defeat at McDiarmid Park on May 11, 2016 when Ronny Deila was still in charge in the east end of Glasgow. The Celtic management team have consistently asserted that the accumulation of unbeaten outings has not featured in team talks, but its significance was underlined on this occasion by the selection of the same players who started in Tuesday’s match against Bayern Munich in the Champions League group stage meeting at Parkhead. Saints had no such comfort, having failed to score since their 2-1 home victory over Hamilton Academical on Sept 23. An unfortunate susceptibility to injury contributed to that melancholy record and the casualty list was again a factor, with Tommy Wright forced to operate without Murray Davidson and Brian Easton, while Michael O’Halloran was judged to have only sufficient fitness for a place on the bench. One of those restored to the home side was Steven MacLean, who was swiftly afforded two tantalising glimpses of goal because of hesitancy by Nir Bitton. The Israeli midfielder, acting once more as a stopgap central defender, was ambushed by the Saints striker on the edge of the Celtic box but managed to retrieve possession before damage could be inflicted. Bitton was fortunate again when he let a dropping ball bounce in front of him, but again MacLean was unable to take advantage. The St Johnstone forward nearly made amends with an audacious lob from 40 yards which almost caught Craig Gordon off his line, but the effort went just over the top. Celtic had not displayed much menace despite controlling 75 per cent of possession but they made the breakthrough with a corner kick straight from the training ground with which Stuart Armstrong found Scott Sinclair alone inside the box for a rising shot to net his 11th goal of the campaign. After the break, a header off the line by Aaron Comrie denied Dedryck Boyata what would have been Celtic’s second, but the progression was merely postponed until the 72nd minute, when Moussa Dembele flicked an Armstrong cutback past Zander Clark, before contributing with a cutback of his own which was turned in by Steven Anderson. The rout was completed by Olivier Ntcham with a shot from the edge of the box to make it 4-0. Olivier Ntcham wrapped up the scoring with Celtic's fourth with a minute of normal time remaining Credit: Getty Images Elsewhere, Graeme Murty, Rangers’ caretaker manager and coach of the club’s under-20s, admitted that he had thought about leaving Ibrox if he is not offered the vacant manager’s job. However, Murty, who has been asked by the Rangers directors to take charge of the first team twice this year – first when Mark Warburton left in March and then when Pedro Caixinha departed last month – asserted that he had more to gain from staying in place than by taking a manager’s job at a smaller outfit. “I’ve been thinking about that one for a while - not at the moment,” he said. “I’m in possibly the best learning environment that I’ve been in, personally and professionally. “If the board ask someone else to come in and I was to go back to the under-20s, I wouldn’t think about that. If I was to go back to the under-20s, I have a fantastic project there that I can get my teeth into. “Potentially, that is how we make up ground but, however we do it, the club is structured and geared and driving towards making that gap non-existent. We want to be challenging right at the top and experiencing some fantastic European evenings. “The players have an opportunity. All I see at the moment is potential, and a pathway that is there for them to go and play in the Rangers first-team as a player. If the player is good enough, if they are driven enough, if they are hungry enough, that is what they have to be. “The bottom line is that they won’t get any special dispensation because they are home-grown. They will get special dispensation if they are good, good players.” Murty kept up his good record as interim with Rangers achieving a 3-0 win over Partick Thistle at Ibrox on Saturday that included a first goal for the club for young defender Ross McCrorie. Daniel Candeias and Josh Windass also netted. Hamilton held Aberdeen 2-2, with Hibernian now two points behind Derek McInnes’s side after a 2-1 victory against bottom-placed Dundee. Ross County triumphed 3-2 at home versus Motherwell. 

Scottish football round-up: Kenny Miller produces star turn as Rangers end difficult week with win

Kenny Miller directed a taunting retort at Pedro Caixinha by scoring twice and setting up the other goal for Josh Windass in Rangers’ 3-1 victory over Hearts at Murrayfield, a result which delivered a satisfactory end to a tumultuous week for the Ibrox club. It had begun with dismissal from the Betfred Scottish League Cup by Motherwell and continued with a farcical draw at home to Kilmarnock, the result which triggered Caixinha’s sacking.   The Kilmarnock game ended with an equaliser for the Ayrshire side scored by Chris Burke, a former Rangers player. The melancholy catalogue looked as though it would be extended in Edinburgh when another Ibrox employee of bygone days, Kyle Lafferty, put Hearts ahead, but Miller’s interventions scooped all three points for Graeme Murty in his second spell as Rangers’ interim manager. The occasion was replete with serendipity, as in the case of Douglas Ross, one of Craig Thomson’s assistant referees. The Honourable Member for Moray, as he is known in his day job, was criticised for missing the House of Commons vote on Universal Credit in order to run the line at the Champions League group stage tie between Barcelona and Olympiakos in the Nou Camp. It is a unique situation for a Scot to qualify for the finals of a World Cup and then be forced to quit because he is a Tory MP and, perhaps even more remarkable, for him to be the object of greater abuse for a political no-show than for decisions taken by the side of the pitch. Miller reels away after scoring for Rangers Credit: PA Prior to kick-off, the Scottish Rugby Union made a media presentation of their case for Murrayfield to replace Hampden Park as the venue for Scottish football’s showpiece games. Hampden, of course, is frequently derided because of the distance between the pitch and spectators, a stricture which applies even more to the gap between the Murrayfield main stand and the edge of the playing surface. The match programme, meanwhile, still had Caixinha as Rangers manager, a consequence of early print deadlines, but the team sheet listed one name that would have been missing had the Portuguese coach still been in charge. Miller was reinstated, not only to the team but also as captain, and his presence energised the visitors, who had three corner kicks to their credit before Hearts recorded their first. Craig Levein’s side, though, made the breakthrough with a splendid example of set play technique from Lafferty. The provenance was a foul by the teenager, Ross McCrorie – a replacement for the injured Bruno Alves in central defence – who toppled Ismael Goncalves 22 yards out. Lafferty stepped forward and addressed the ball with the focused demeanour usually associated with Greig Laidlaw at this stadium and his delivery would have gratified the Scotland scrum half, albeit that the ball dropped sweetly underneath the crossbar to leave Wes Foderingham stranded. Had Ross Callachan been as deadly when a cute Goncalves reverse pass put him clear inside the box, Hearts would have been 2-0 up within two minutes of their opener. Callachacould only drive against Foderingham. Hearts would rue the missed opportunity before the interval. With only four minutes of the half left to play, Alfredo Morelos’ tenacity created an opening for Miller, whose shot nicked John Souttar’s boot and looped over Jon McLaughlin into the net. The veteran striker put Rangers in front with a textbook header across McLaughlin from a pinpoint delivery from James Tavernier. Miller did not score Rangers’ third goal but it was his punitive pass, curled ahead of Windass from distance, that left the midfielder free to tuck his finish low beyond McLaughlin. Rangers’ victory saw them move into third place, ahead of Motherwell, who lost at home to Hibernian, with Martin Boyle scoring the only goal. At the top, Celtic extended their unbeaten sequence of domestic games to 62 with a 1-1 home draw with Kilmarnock, who recovered from Leigh Griffiths’ opener to level through Jordan Jones. Aberdeen, in second place, fell behind to Michael Gardyne’s opener for Ross County but won with goals from Ryan and Christie and Kenny McLean to narrow the gap with Celtic to a single point. Dundee slumped to the foot of the table after a 3-1 defeat by Hamilton while Partick moved up by beating St Johnstone 1-0 at Firhill.

Scottish football round-up: Kenny Miller produces star turn as Rangers end difficult week with win

Kenny Miller directed a taunting retort at Pedro Caixinha by scoring twice and setting up the other goal for Josh Windass in Rangers’ 3-1 victory over Hearts at Murrayfield, a result which delivered a satisfactory end to a tumultuous week for the Ibrox club. It had begun with dismissal from the Betfred Scottish League Cup by Motherwell and continued with a farcical draw at home to Kilmarnock, the result which triggered Caixinha’s sacking.   The Kilmarnock game ended with an equaliser for the Ayrshire side scored by Chris Burke, a former Rangers player. The melancholy catalogue looked as though it would be extended in Edinburgh when another Ibrox employee of bygone days, Kyle Lafferty, put Hearts ahead, but Miller’s interventions scooped all three points for Graeme Murty in his second spell as Rangers’ interim manager. The occasion was replete with serendipity, as in the case of Douglas Ross, one of Craig Thomson’s assistant referees. The Honourable Member for Moray, as he is known in his day job, was criticised for missing the House of Commons vote on Universal Credit in order to run the line at the Champions League group stage tie between Barcelona and Olympiakos in the Nou Camp. It is a unique situation for a Scot to qualify for the finals of a World Cup and then be forced to quit because he is a Tory MP and, perhaps even more remarkable, for him to be the object of greater abuse for a political no-show than for decisions taken by the side of the pitch. Miller reels away after scoring for Rangers Credit: PA Prior to kick-off, the Scottish Rugby Union made a media presentation of their case for Murrayfield to replace Hampden Park as the venue for Scottish football’s showpiece games. Hampden, of course, is frequently derided because of the distance between the pitch and spectators, a stricture which applies even more to the gap between the Murrayfield main stand and the edge of the playing surface. The match programme, meanwhile, still had Caixinha as Rangers manager, a consequence of early print deadlines, but the team sheet listed one name that would have been missing had the Portuguese coach still been in charge. Miller was reinstated, not only to the team but also as captain, and his presence energised the visitors, who had three corner kicks to their credit before Hearts recorded their first. Craig Levein’s side, though, made the breakthrough with a splendid example of set play technique from Lafferty. The provenance was a foul by the teenager, Ross McCrorie – a replacement for the injured Bruno Alves in central defence – who toppled Ismael Goncalves 22 yards out. Lafferty stepped forward and addressed the ball with the focused demeanour usually associated with Greig Laidlaw at this stadium and his delivery would have gratified the Scotland scrum half, albeit that the ball dropped sweetly underneath the crossbar to leave Wes Foderingham stranded. Had Ross Callachan been as deadly when a cute Goncalves reverse pass put him clear inside the box, Hearts would have been 2-0 up within two minutes of their opener. Callachacould only drive against Foderingham. Hearts would rue the missed opportunity before the interval. With only four minutes of the half left to play, Alfredo Morelos’ tenacity created an opening for Miller, whose shot nicked John Souttar’s boot and looped over Jon McLaughlin into the net. The veteran striker put Rangers in front with a textbook header across McLaughlin from a pinpoint delivery from James Tavernier. Miller did not score Rangers’ third goal but it was his punitive pass, curled ahead of Windass from distance, that left the midfielder free to tuck his finish low beyond McLaughlin. Rangers’ victory saw them move into third place, ahead of Motherwell, who lost at home to Hibernian, with Martin Boyle scoring the only goal. At the top, Celtic extended their unbeaten sequence of domestic games to 62 with a 1-1 home draw with Kilmarnock, who recovered from Leigh Griffiths’ opener to level through Jordan Jones. Aberdeen, in second place, fell behind to Michael Gardyne’s opener for Ross County but won with goals from Ryan and Christie and Kenny McLean to narrow the gap with Celtic to a single point. Dundee slumped to the foot of the table after a 3-1 defeat by Hamilton while Partick moved up by beating St Johnstone 1-0 at Firhill.

Graeme Murty wants his players' input as he resumes his role as go-to Rangers interim manager 

Graeme Murty has one outstanding credential as the Rangers board consider who they should appoint to succeed Pedro Caixinha as their next manager. The club’s Under-20 coach, who has become the go-to man when the directors need an interim boss, succeeded in a task which eluded both Caixinha and his predecessor, Mark Warburton. On March 12, he supervised the only Rangers team to deprive Celtic of league points since the Ibrox club returned to the top level of Scottish football in the summer of 2016. The former York City, Reading and Southampton defender, who will be in charge when Rangers meet Hearts at Murrayfield on Saturday, has only to close his eyes to prompt a torrent of impressions of that afternoon in the east end of Glasgow. Pedro Caixinha was sacked as Rangers manager on Thursday  Credit: PA “The colours, the sound, how vivid it is, still,” Murty said. “More than anything, the lessons I learned about myself and about this football club from that day. “I would be a Grade A fool not to draw on those. They have informed my practice and my development now. I will be using some of those things as I move forward in this role at the moment. “I learned that the players, when they walk onto that pitch, need to be together and to have a manner of playing, an identity and a togetherness. I need to be able to remove myself at times to give the players what they need. “That was difficult at Celtic Park, but it was something I’m really proud of that we did. It was a fantastic staff that I worked with and I am really grateful to them. That’s another good lesson - that I won’t be able to do this on my own.”  Asked if his second spell as caretake could promote his reputation with the Ibrox directors as they mull over their next move, Murty said: “I am in no position to comment because that is not my remit. To be honest, I am going to prepare a team for Saturday. The bigger questions will wait until later on or for people of a much-higher pay scale than myself. Ryan Jack (second left) is available for selection for Rangers after appealing his red card Credit: PA “If the players know anything from Friday’s training session, it’s that I want their input. Within the training session, within the dressing room, within the match-prep, they have to have a voice. I will reiterate it until people are bored of me – it’s about the players, not about me.”  In the aftermath of defeat by Motherwell in the Betfred Scottish League Cup semi-final and the shambolic 1-1 draw at home to Kilmarnock on Wednesday, Murty has selection difficulties to address, with Bruno Alves suspended and Graham Dorrans and Fabio Cardoso out because of injury. He will, however, be able to deploy Ryan Jack, who has appealed the red card shown to him against Kilmarnock, as well as Kenny Miller, who spent the final three weeks of Caixinha’s reign banished from the squad because he had fallen out of favour with the outgoing manager. “I wasn’t in, I didn’t see what was going on,” Murty said. “Kenny is fit, he is available.” Asked if Miller would regain the captain’s armband, Murty said: “I haven’t made that decision yet.”  Had he not been summoned to supervise the first team, Murty would have been with the under-20s against Liverpool - “I was, potentially, going to be standing on the side with Steven Gerrard,” he said – but will now have the distinction of being the first coach to be in charge of a Rangers side at Murrayfield. Out-of-favour captain Kenny Miller could be back playing under manager Murty  Credit: Getty Images  “I’ve never been there before,” he said. “I’ve seen some footage of it. The technical area looks like I’ll need to have a drinks station half way down it. “Other than that, the pitch is going to be the same so the players have to go and deal with the atmosphere. I’m in no doubt it’s going to be good as we’ve sold loads of tickets. The fans are travelling in their thousands so we need to make sure when the players walk onto the pitch they give them a right good performance.”  Hearts are smarting from defeat by Hibernian in the Edinburgh derby on Tuesday at Easter Road and are likely to be without midfielders, Don Cowie and Arnaud Djoum. Craig Levein’s side have won only one of their four most recent league fixtures but they beat St Johnstone at Murrayfield last weekend. Meanwhile, Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager who rejected an overture from Sunderland during the summer, was cool when asked about his status as one of the favourites to succeed Caixinha. “I’m very happy being here, as I’ve stated often enough,” he said. “I’ve been supposedly linked with clubs a couple of times and, in particular, with Rangers. I’m happy here and nothing changes.”

Graeme Murty wants his players' input as he resumes his role as go-to Rangers interim manager 

Graeme Murty has one outstanding credential as the Rangers board consider who they should appoint to succeed Pedro Caixinha as their next manager. The club’s Under-20 coach, who has become the go-to man when the directors need an interim boss, succeeded in a task which eluded both Caixinha and his predecessor, Mark Warburton. On March 12, he supervised the only Rangers team to deprive Celtic of league points since the Ibrox club returned to the top level of Scottish football in the summer of 2016. The former York City, Reading and Southampton defender, who will be in charge when Rangers meet Hearts at Murrayfield on Saturday, has only to close his eyes to prompt a torrent of impressions of that afternoon in the east end of Glasgow. Pedro Caixinha was sacked as Rangers manager on Thursday  Credit: PA “The colours, the sound, how vivid it is, still,” Murty said. “More than anything, the lessons I learned about myself and about this football club from that day. “I would be a Grade A fool not to draw on those. They have informed my practice and my development now. I will be using some of those things as I move forward in this role at the moment. “I learned that the players, when they walk onto that pitch, need to be together and to have a manner of playing, an identity and a togetherness. I need to be able to remove myself at times to give the players what they need. “That was difficult at Celtic Park, but it was something I’m really proud of that we did. It was a fantastic staff that I worked with and I am really grateful to them. That’s another good lesson - that I won’t be able to do this on my own.”  Asked if his second spell as caretake could promote his reputation with the Ibrox directors as they mull over their next move, Murty said: “I am in no position to comment because that is not my remit. To be honest, I am going to prepare a team for Saturday. The bigger questions will wait until later on or for people of a much-higher pay scale than myself. Ryan Jack (second left) is available for selection for Rangers after appealing his red card Credit: PA “If the players know anything from Friday’s training session, it’s that I want their input. Within the training session, within the dressing room, within the match-prep, they have to have a voice. I will reiterate it until people are bored of me – it’s about the players, not about me.”  In the aftermath of defeat by Motherwell in the Betfred Scottish League Cup semi-final and the shambolic 1-1 draw at home to Kilmarnock on Wednesday, Murty has selection difficulties to address, with Bruno Alves suspended and Graham Dorrans and Fabio Cardoso out because of injury. He will, however, be able to deploy Ryan Jack, who has appealed the red card shown to him against Kilmarnock, as well as Kenny Miller, who spent the final three weeks of Caixinha’s reign banished from the squad because he had fallen out of favour with the outgoing manager. “I wasn’t in, I didn’t see what was going on,” Murty said. “Kenny is fit, he is available.” Asked if Miller would regain the captain’s armband, Murty said: “I haven’t made that decision yet.”  Had he not been summoned to supervise the first team, Murty would have been with the under-20s against Liverpool - “I was, potentially, going to be standing on the side with Steven Gerrard,” he said – but will now have the distinction of being the first coach to be in charge of a Rangers side at Murrayfield. Out-of-favour captain Kenny Miller could be back playing under manager Murty  Credit: Getty Images  “I’ve never been there before,” he said. “I’ve seen some footage of it. The technical area looks like I’ll need to have a drinks station half way down it. “Other than that, the pitch is going to be the same so the players have to go and deal with the atmosphere. I’m in no doubt it’s going to be good as we’ve sold loads of tickets. The fans are travelling in their thousands so we need to make sure when the players walk onto the pitch they give them a right good performance.”  Hearts are smarting from defeat by Hibernian in the Edinburgh derby on Tuesday at Easter Road and are likely to be without midfielders, Don Cowie and Arnaud Djoum. Craig Levein’s side have won only one of their four most recent league fixtures but they beat St Johnstone at Murrayfield last weekend. Meanwhile, Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager who rejected an overture from Sunderland during the summer, was cool when asked about his status as one of the favourites to succeed Caixinha. “I’m very happy being here, as I’ve stated often enough,” he said. “I’ve been supposedly linked with clubs a couple of times and, in particular, with Rangers. I’m happy here and nothing changes.”

Graeme Murty wants his players' input as he resumes his role as go-to Rangers interim manager 

Graeme Murty has one outstanding credential as the Rangers board consider who they should appoint to succeed Pedro Caixinha as their next manager. The club’s Under-20 coach, who has become the go-to man when the directors need an interim boss, succeeded in a task which eluded both Caixinha and his predecessor, Mark Warburton. On March 12, he supervised the only Rangers team to deprive Celtic of league points since the Ibrox club returned to the top level of Scottish football in the summer of 2016. The former York City, Reading and Southampton defender, who will be in charge when Rangers meet Hearts at Murrayfield on Saturday, has only to close his eyes to prompt a torrent of impressions of that afternoon in the east end of Glasgow. Pedro Caixinha was sacked as Rangers manager on Thursday  Credit: PA “The colours, the sound, how vivid it is, still,” Murty said. “More than anything, the lessons I learned about myself and about this football club from that day. “I would be a Grade A fool not to draw on those. They have informed my practice and my development now. I will be using some of those things as I move forward in this role at the moment. “I learned that the players, when they walk onto that pitch, need to be together and to have a manner of playing, an identity and a togetherness. I need to be able to remove myself at times to give the players what they need. “That was difficult at Celtic Park, but it was something I’m really proud of that we did. It was a fantastic staff that I worked with and I am really grateful to them. That’s another good lesson - that I won’t be able to do this on my own.”  Asked if his second spell as caretake could promote his reputation with the Ibrox directors as they mull over their next move, Murty said: “I am in no position to comment because that is not my remit. To be honest, I am going to prepare a team for Saturday. The bigger questions will wait until later on or for people of a much-higher pay scale than myself. Ryan Jack (second left) is available for selection for Rangers after appealing his red card Credit: PA “If the players know anything from Friday’s training session, it’s that I want their input. Within the training session, within the dressing room, within the match-prep, they have to have a voice. I will reiterate it until people are bored of me – it’s about the players, not about me.”  In the aftermath of defeat by Motherwell in the Betfred Scottish League Cup semi-final and the shambolic 1-1 draw at home to Kilmarnock on Wednesday, Murty has selection difficulties to address, with Bruno Alves suspended and Graham Dorrans and Fabio Cardoso out because of injury. He will, however, be able to deploy Ryan Jack, who has appealed the red card shown to him against Kilmarnock, as well as Kenny Miller, who spent the final three weeks of Caixinha’s reign banished from the squad because he had fallen out of favour with the outgoing manager. “I wasn’t in, I didn’t see what was going on,” Murty said. “Kenny is fit, he is available.” Asked if Miller would regain the captain’s armband, Murty said: “I haven’t made that decision yet.”  Had he not been summoned to supervise the first team, Murty would have been with the under-20s against Liverpool - “I was, potentially, going to be standing on the side with Steven Gerrard,” he said – but will now have the distinction of being the first coach to be in charge of a Rangers side at Murrayfield. Out-of-favour captain Kenny Miller could be back playing under manager Murty  Credit: Getty Images  “I’ve never been there before,” he said. “I’ve seen some footage of it. The technical area looks like I’ll need to have a drinks station half way down it. “Other than that, the pitch is going to be the same so the players have to go and deal with the atmosphere. I’m in no doubt it’s going to be good as we’ve sold loads of tickets. The fans are travelling in their thousands so we need to make sure when the players walk onto the pitch they give them a right good performance.”  Hearts are smarting from defeat by Hibernian in the Edinburgh derby on Tuesday at Easter Road and are likely to be without midfielders, Don Cowie and Arnaud Djoum. Craig Levein’s side have won only one of their four most recent league fixtures but they beat St Johnstone at Murrayfield last weekend. Meanwhile, Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager who rejected an overture from Sunderland during the summer, was cool when asked about his status as one of the favourites to succeed Caixinha. “I’m very happy being here, as I’ve stated often enough,” he said. “I’ve been supposedly linked with clubs a couple of times and, in particular, with Rangers. I’m happy here and nothing changes.”

Graeme Murty wants his players' input as he resumes his role as go-to Rangers interim manager 

Graeme Murty has one outstanding credential as the Rangers board consider who they should appoint to succeed Pedro Caixinha as their next manager. The club’s Under-20 coach, who has become the go-to man when the directors need an interim boss, succeeded in a task which eluded both Caixinha and his predecessor, Mark Warburton. On March 12, he supervised the only Rangers team to deprive Celtic of league points since the Ibrox club returned to the top level of Scottish football in the summer of 2016. The former York City, Reading and Southampton defender, who will be in charge when Rangers meet Hearts at Murrayfield on Saturday, has only to close his eyes to prompt a torrent of impressions of that afternoon in the east end of Glasgow. Pedro Caixinha was sacked as Rangers manager on Thursday  Credit: PA “The colours, the sound, how vivid it is, still,” Murty said. “More than anything, the lessons I learned about myself and about this football club from that day. “I would be a Grade A fool not to draw on those. They have informed my practice and my development now. I will be using some of those things as I move forward in this role at the moment. “I learned that the players, when they walk onto that pitch, need to be together and to have a manner of playing, an identity and a togetherness. I need to be able to remove myself at times to give the players what they need. “That was difficult at Celtic Park, but it was something I’m really proud of that we did. It was a fantastic staff that I worked with and I am really grateful to them. That’s another good lesson - that I won’t be able to do this on my own.”  Asked if his second spell as caretake could promote his reputation with the Ibrox directors as they mull over their next move, Murty said: “I am in no position to comment because that is not my remit. To be honest, I am going to prepare a team for Saturday. The bigger questions will wait until later on or for people of a much-higher pay scale than myself. Ryan Jack (second left) is available for selection for Rangers after appealing his red card Credit: PA “If the players know anything from Friday’s training session, it’s that I want their input. Within the training session, within the dressing room, within the match-prep, they have to have a voice. I will reiterate it until people are bored of me – it’s about the players, not about me.”  In the aftermath of defeat by Motherwell in the Betfred Scottish League Cup semi-final and the shambolic 1-1 draw at home to Kilmarnock on Wednesday, Murty has selection difficulties to address, with Bruno Alves suspended and Graham Dorrans and Fabio Cardoso out because of injury. He will, however, be able to deploy Ryan Jack, who has appealed the red card shown to him against Kilmarnock, as well as Kenny Miller, who spent the final three weeks of Caixinha’s reign banished from the squad because he had fallen out of favour with the outgoing manager. “I wasn’t in, I didn’t see what was going on,” Murty said. “Kenny is fit, he is available.” Asked if Miller would regain the captain’s armband, Murty said: “I haven’t made that decision yet.”  Had he not been summoned to supervise the first team, Murty would have been with the under-20s against Liverpool - “I was, potentially, going to be standing on the side with Steven Gerrard,” he said – but will now have the distinction of being the first coach to be in charge of a Rangers side at Murrayfield. Out-of-favour captain Kenny Miller could be back playing under manager Murty  Credit: Getty Images  “I’ve never been there before,” he said. “I’ve seen some footage of it. The technical area looks like I’ll need to have a drinks station half way down it. “Other than that, the pitch is going to be the same so the players have to go and deal with the atmosphere. I’m in no doubt it’s going to be good as we’ve sold loads of tickets. The fans are travelling in their thousands so we need to make sure when the players walk onto the pitch they give them a right good performance.”  Hearts are smarting from defeat by Hibernian in the Edinburgh derby on Tuesday at Easter Road and are likely to be without midfielders, Don Cowie and Arnaud Djoum. Craig Levein’s side have won only one of their four most recent league fixtures but they beat St Johnstone at Murrayfield last weekend. Meanwhile, Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager who rejected an overture from Sunderland during the summer, was cool when asked about his status as one of the favourites to succeed Caixinha. “I’m very happy being here, as I’ve stated often enough,” he said. “I’ve been supposedly linked with clubs a couple of times and, in particular, with Rangers. I’m happy here and nothing changes.”

Rangers sack manager Pedro Caixinha after just seven months at Ibrox

Pedro Caixinha was the Buster Keaton of Scottish football during his 229 days at Ibrox. The most enduring image from his ill-starred period in charge was the sight of the Portuguese coach up to his knees in shrubbery, engaging with incensed supporters after Rangers’ worst-ever European result, a defeat by Progres Niederkorn of Luxembourg in the first qualifying round of the Europa League in July. Another farcical recollection was the moment during the most recent Old Firm match at Ibrox, when a sliding tackle by Josh Windass on Mikael Lustig also toppled the Rangers manager. That now seems entirely symbolic of the predicament of a character who had forfeited the loyalty of players whom he accused of embarrassing their club after Sunday’s defeat by Motherwell in the semi-finals of the Betfred Scottish League Cup. Caixinha’s appointment defied logic from the moment he was introduced as Mark Warburton’s successor in March. His managerial CV consisted of stints at Uniao Leiria and Nacional in his homeland, before he moved to Santos Laguna in Mexico and then, for two years from 2015, a spell at Al-Gharafa in Qatar. When he was paraded before the media on arrival at Ibrox it was disclosed that Caixinha had been hired to succeed Mark Warburton because his job interview had been the most impressive of any of the candidates. Alarm bells clanged, however, on his first day in charge, when he was asked what he would consider a plausible ambition for Rangers under his leadership. Caixinha replied: “We are talking about European trophies.” Soon the warnings were being sounded by klaxon, as he revealed his team selection for a league meeting with Kilmarnock in April, 30 hours before kick-off. The fixture ended in a goalless draw, one of the disfiguring results of Caixinha’s 26 games in charge, of which he won only 14. This was the same manager who, two weeks ago, complained bitterly that, ahead of a trip to St Johnstone on the final day of last season, a dressing room mole had leaked the Rangers line-up to the Perth side, an allegation rebutted by the Saints manager, Tommy Wright, with the rejoinder that Caixinha was ‘just someone who was paranoid.’ Graeme Murty will step up on an interim basis following Caixinha's departure Credit: PA The calibration of any Rangers manager’s performance which matters most to the Light Blue faithful is his record against Celtic. Caixinha’s first sight of his players in action was in an Old Firm derby at Parkhead when Graeme Murty, coach of the club’s under-20s, supervised a 1-1 draw against the odds. By contrast, Caixinha’s Old Firm blooding, a William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park ended in a defeat that was more comprehensive than the 2-0 outcome suggested. With a league meeting with Celtic due at Ibrox six days later, it was expected that the Rangers manager would attempt to remedy his side’s manifest defensive frailties. Instead, Caixinha deployed a midfield diamond, through which Celtic romped to secure a record derby victory at the home of their greatest rivals. Another unpalatable result was posted on May 17, when Rangers lost at home to Aberdeen for the first time in 26 years. The Rangers chairman, Dave King, subsequently declared that the setbacks had been part of a planned learning process for Caixinha, with the intended consequence of ensuring progress during Rangers’ return to European football for the first time since 2011, the year before the club was plunged into financial turmoil under Craig Whyte. King also declared that he and his fellow directors were content with Caixhina’s transfer dealings. That contention was made to look naive when Rangers’ competitive season opened with the humiliation by Progres Niedkorn, minuscule opponents who had never won a European tie. The domestic title campaign also began to go awry with a 3-2 home defeat by Hibernian followed by a goalless draw with Hearts at Ibrox. By the start of the recent international break, Caixinha had been branded as a manager who could not supervise three successive wins and his threadbare record worsened with Sunday’s loss to Motherwell in the semi-final of the Betfred Scottish League Cup. The single greatest indictment of Caixinha’s signing policy and motivational powers was the case of Carlos Pena, acquired from Mexican club, Leon, for a fee reportedly as high as £3.5 million. Pena looked a sorry figure in the 2-0 defeat by Celtic at Ibrox last month, by which time Caixinha had discounted any title ambitions Rangers might have nurtured. Pena continued to be selected while Kenny Miller was banished from the squad, the veteran striker having been blamed by Caixinha for leaking details of dressing room exchanges after the Old Firm defeat. Caixinha’s exit was the consequent of a slapstick finale when Rangers, leading 1-0 at home to Kilmarnock on Wednesday and having been awarded an injury time penalty kick, were reduced to 10 men by the dismissal of Ryan Jack for a scuffle off the ball, missed the spot kick and conceded an equaliser to Chris Burke – a former Ibrox player. The Rangers board’s brief statement lamented that results were “not commensurate with the level of investment that was made available.” Now they must remedy the consequence of their own misjudgement, a task made doubly difficult because Caixinha was allowed to empty their piggy bank. Buster Keaton’s most famous stunt saw him emerge unscathed as a house collapsed around him. Rangers’ fans must pray that Caixinha is not remembered for the same feat.

Rangers sack manager Pedro Caixinha after just seven months at Ibrox

Pedro Caixinha was the Buster Keaton of Scottish football during his 229 days at Ibrox. The most enduring image from his ill-starred period in charge was the sight of the Portuguese coach up to his knees in shrubbery, engaging with incensed supporters after Rangers’ worst-ever European result, a defeat by Progres Niederkorn of Luxembourg in the first qualifying round of the Europa League in July. Another farcical recollection was the moment during the most recent Old Firm match at Ibrox, when a sliding tackle by Josh Windass on Mikael Lustig also toppled the Rangers manager. That now seems entirely symbolic of the predicament of a character who had forfeited the loyalty of players whom he accused of embarrassing their club after Sunday’s defeat by Motherwell in the semi-finals of the Betfred Scottish League Cup. Caixinha’s appointment defied logic from the moment he was introduced as Mark Warburton’s successor in March. His managerial CV consisted of stints at Uniao Leiria and Nacional in his homeland, before he moved to Santos Laguna in Mexico and then, for two years from 2015, a spell at Al-Gharafa in Qatar. When he was paraded before the media on arrival at Ibrox it was disclosed that Caixinha had been hired to succeed Mark Warburton because his job interview had been the most impressive of any of the candidates. Alarm bells clanged, however, on his first day in charge, when he was asked what he would consider a plausible ambition for Rangers under his leadership. Caixinha replied: “We are talking about European trophies.” Soon the warnings were being sounded by klaxon, as he revealed his team selection for a league meeting with Kilmarnock in April, 30 hours before kick-off. The fixture ended in a goalless draw, one of the disfiguring results of Caixinha’s 26 games in charge, of which he won only 14. This was the same manager who, two weeks ago, complained bitterly that, ahead of a trip to St Johnstone on the final day of last season, a dressing room mole had leaked the Rangers line-up to the Perth side, an allegation rebutted by the Saints manager, Tommy Wright, with the rejoinder that Caixinha was ‘just someone who was paranoid.’ Graeme Murty will step up on an interim basis following Caixinha's departure Credit: PA The calibration of any Rangers manager’s performance which matters most to the Light Blue faithful is his record against Celtic. Caixinha’s first sight of his players in action was in an Old Firm derby at Parkhead when Graeme Murty, coach of the club’s under-20s, supervised a 1-1 draw against the odds. By contrast, Caixinha’s Old Firm blooding, a William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park ended in a defeat that was more comprehensive than the 2-0 outcome suggested. With a league meeting with Celtic due at Ibrox six days later, it was expected that the Rangers manager would attempt to remedy his side’s manifest defensive frailties. Instead, Caixinha deployed a midfield diamond, through which Celtic romped to secure a record derby victory at the home of their greatest rivals. Another unpalatable result was posted on May 17, when Rangers lost at home to Aberdeen for the first time in 26 years. The Rangers chairman, Dave King, subsequently declared that the setbacks had been part of a planned learning process for Caixinha, with the intended consequence of ensuring progress during Rangers’ return to European football for the first time since 2011, the year before the club was plunged into financial turmoil under Craig Whyte. King also declared that he and his fellow directors were content with Caixhina’s transfer dealings. That contention was made to look naive when Rangers’ competitive season opened with the humiliation by Progres Niedkorn, minuscule opponents who had never won a European tie. The domestic title campaign also began to go awry with a 3-2 home defeat by Hibernian followed by a goalless draw with Hearts at Ibrox. By the start of the recent international break, Caixinha had been branded as a manager who could not supervise three successive wins and his threadbare record worsened with Sunday’s loss to Motherwell in the semi-final of the Betfred Scottish League Cup. The single greatest indictment of Caixinha’s signing policy and motivational powers was the case of Carlos Pena, acquired from Mexican club, Leon, for a fee reportedly as high as £3.5 million. Pena looked a sorry figure in the 2-0 defeat by Celtic at Ibrox last month, by which time Caixinha had discounted any title ambitions Rangers might have nurtured. Pena continued to be selected while Kenny Miller was banished from the squad, the veteran striker having been blamed by Caixinha for leaking details of dressing room exchanges after the Old Firm defeat. Caixinha’s exit was the consequent of a slapstick finale when Rangers, leading 1-0 at home to Kilmarnock on Wednesday and having been awarded an injury time penalty kick, were reduced to 10 men by the dismissal of Ryan Jack for a scuffle off the ball, missed the spot kick and conceded an equaliser to Chris Burke – a former Ibrox player. The Rangers board’s brief statement lamented that results were “not commensurate with the level of investment that was made available.” Now they must remedy the consequence of their own misjudgement, a task made doubly difficult because Caixinha was allowed to empty their piggy bank. Buster Keaton’s most famous stunt saw him emerge unscathed as a house collapsed around him. Rangers’ fans must pray that Caixinha is not remembered for the same feat.

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 22, 2017 Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 22, 2017 Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

PHOTO: Rangers Star Fábio Cardoso Shows Off Brutal Broken Nose After Clash With Motherwell Striker

​Rangers defender Fábio Cardoso has taken to social media to show off the gruesome injury he picked up after tussling with Motherwell striker Ryan Bowman in Sunday's League Cup Semi-Final clash.  Cardoso was spotted during the match with blood pouring from his nose, after Bowman was seen to have elbowed the Portuguese player twice in the face during tussles. Posting on his Twitter page, via The Sun, the 23-year-old shocked fans with the gruesome picture, showing his bloodied nose to have...

PHOTO: Rangers Star Fábio Cardoso Shows Off Brutal Broken Nose After Clash With Motherwell Striker

​Rangers defender Fábio Cardoso has taken to social media to show off the gruesome injury he picked up after tussling with Motherwell striker Ryan Bowman in Sunday's League Cup Semi-Final clash.  Cardoso was spotted during the match with blood pouring from his nose, after Bowman was seen to have elbowed the Portuguese player twice in the face during tussles. Posting on his Twitter page, via The Sun, the 23-year-old shocked fans with the gruesome picture, showing his bloodied nose to have...

Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha on the brink after claiming players embarrassed him

The main flightpath to Glasgow Airport runs directly over Rangers’ training ground, which means that media briefings often take place against a background of incoming or departing aircraft. Even while Pedro Caixinha was delivering his latest meditations – in this case about Sunday’s defeat by Motherwell in the semi-finals of the Betfred Scottish League Cup it was impossible not to wonder how much longer it would be before the Rangers manager was leaving on a jet plane. Since he succeeded Mark Warburton in March, Caixinha has been in charge for 25 matches, of which 14 have been won, seven lost and four drawn. He could not have been held responsible for Rangers’ loss against Celtic in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final in April but he was culpable in the 5-1 battering in the following weekend’s Old Firm derby at Ibrox. Since then, Rangers have been dumped from the Europa League qualifiers at the first time of asking by the microscopic Progres Niederkorn of Luxembourg, are six points adrift of Celtic and Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership and have now been dismissed from the first domestic tournament of the season by a team with significantly inferior resources. Most alarming of all is that, under their Portuguese manager, Rangers have yet to assemble three consecutive victories. “The pattern is that when the third game comes along – and normally it is a key game or a very important game like the Old Firm or a cup semi-final – the team doesn’t give you a strong response,” he said. “Motherwell performed exactly as we knew they were going to. We didn’t. We chose exactly the right contents to place on the training sessions so that the players knew what they were facing, although we had already played Motherwell in the first game of the season. “We worked more than usual on defending set-pieces, so we feel we prepared in the right way to show the players what we wanted from the game but, from having our team meeting at the training ground and then getting to Hampden and going out on the pitch, there was a huge difference from what we had been working on to the way the team played.” It comes down to this, then. Rangers players are supplied with the information they need but just do not get the message. Louis Moult scored Motherwell's first goal in their 2-0 win over Rangers at the weekend Credit: Getty images “I can make them better tactically, I can make them more aware of the game and I can make them better physically in terms of the way we want to play the game,” Caixinha said. “But they are not reaching that last level, the final stage of being a Rangers player. I discussed it with the players. We cannot be afraid of winning. “However, in the last part of the analysis, I said to the players ‘I believe in you’ because I am the one who has brought many of them here and extended the contracts of existing players.” Caixinha, indeed, revealed that he would have named the 11 who started against Motherwell for Wednesday’s visit of Kilmarnock, but for injuries to Jak Alnwick and Fabio Cardoso. “I’ve told the players, ‘You are embarrassing me, you are embarrassing our club, you are embarrassing our fans’,” Caixinha said. “Now it is time for you to react and I’m glad we’re playing on Wednesday.” Whether one views that strategy as admirable, pig-headed or simply a late play by a habitual gambler, Caixinha is teetering on the edge of a precipice. Kilmarnock are second bottom of the Scottish Premiership but they have a new and high-profile manager in Steve Clarke and will be energised at Ibrox. In current circumstances, a slip at home would surely be ruinous for Caixinha. Even if Rangers prevail, he then has to negotiate an awkward hazard when he and his players meet Hearts at Murrayfield on Saturday. Caixinha spent much of his media session on Monday on a discourse about the state of the Scottish game, which basically came down to a complaint that Motherwell’s strong-arm tactics had paid off. Yet he had already undermined his own argument by claiming that the Rangers players had simply not absorbed his warning of what to expect from Stephen Robinson’s team. “What you need inside – and the board, chairman and players are working towards this – is to get the right structure with everyone sharing the same vision so that you can link with your history and the loyal fans,” he continued. “Can I ask you – how many transfer windows have we had so far? How many months have we been in the club?” The question, as everybody else seems to grasp, is rather – how much longer will Caixinha be at Rangers unless there is a prompt and convincing run of decent form?

Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha on the brink after claiming players embarrassed him

The main flightpath to Glasgow Airport runs directly over Rangers’ training ground, which means that media briefings often take place against a background of incoming or departing aircraft. Even while Pedro Caixinha was delivering his latest meditations – in this case about Sunday’s defeat by Motherwell in the semi-finals of the Betfred Scottish League Cup it was impossible not to wonder how much longer it would be before the Rangers manager was leaving on a jet plane. Since he succeeded Mark Warburton in March, Caixinha has been in charge for 25 matches, of which 14 have been won, seven lost and four drawn. He could not have been held responsible for Rangers’ loss against Celtic in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final in April but he was culpable in the 5-1 battering in the following weekend’s Old Firm derby at Ibrox. Since then, Rangers have been dumped from the Europa League qualifiers at the first time of asking by the microscopic Progres Niederkorn of Luxembourg, are six points adrift of Celtic and Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership and have now been dismissed from the first domestic tournament of the season by a team with significantly inferior resources. Most alarming of all is that, under their Portuguese manager, Rangers have yet to assemble three consecutive victories. “The pattern is that when the third game comes along – and normally it is a key game or a very important game like the Old Firm or a cup semi-final – the team doesn’t give you a strong response,” he said. “Motherwell performed exactly as we knew they were going to. We didn’t. We chose exactly the right contents to place on the training sessions so that the players knew what they were facing, although we had already played Motherwell in the first game of the season. “We worked more than usual on defending set-pieces, so we feel we prepared in the right way to show the players what we wanted from the game but, from having our team meeting at the training ground and then getting to Hampden and going out on the pitch, there was a huge difference from what we had been working on to the way the team played.” It comes down to this, then. Rangers players are supplied with the information they need but just do not get the message. Louis Moult scored Motherwell's first goal in their 2-0 win over Rangers at the weekend Credit: Getty images “I can make them better tactically, I can make them more aware of the game and I can make them better physically in terms of the way we want to play the game,” Caixinha said. “But they are not reaching that last level, the final stage of being a Rangers player. I discussed it with the players. We cannot be afraid of winning. “However, in the last part of the analysis, I said to the players ‘I believe in you’ because I am the one who has brought many of them here and extended the contracts of existing players.” Caixinha, indeed, revealed that he would have named the 11 who started against Motherwell for Wednesday’s visit of Kilmarnock, but for injuries to Jak Alnwick and Fabio Cardoso. “I’ve told the players, ‘You are embarrassing me, you are embarrassing our club, you are embarrassing our fans’,” Caixinha said. “Now it is time for you to react and I’m glad we’re playing on Wednesday.” Whether one views that strategy as admirable, pig-headed or simply a late play by a habitual gambler, Caixinha is teetering on the edge of a precipice. Kilmarnock are second bottom of the Scottish Premiership but they have a new and high-profile manager in Steve Clarke and will be energised at Ibrox. In current circumstances, a slip at home would surely be ruinous for Caixinha. Even if Rangers prevail, he then has to negotiate an awkward hazard when he and his players meet Hearts at Murrayfield on Saturday. Caixinha spent much of his media session on Monday on a discourse about the state of the Scottish game, which basically came down to a complaint that Motherwell’s strong-arm tactics had paid off. Yet he had already undermined his own argument by claiming that the Rangers players had simply not absorbed his warning of what to expect from Stephen Robinson’s team. “What you need inside – and the board, chairman and players are working towards this – is to get the right structure with everyone sharing the same vision so that you can link with your history and the loyal fans,” he continued. “Can I ask you – how many transfer windows have we had so far? How many months have we been in the club?” The question, as everybody else seems to grasp, is rather – how much longer will Caixinha be at Rangers unless there is a prompt and convincing run of decent form?

Rangers 0 Motherwell 2: Louis Moult double settles ill-tempered League Cup semi-final

Rangers 0 Motherwell 2: Louis Moult double settles ill-tempered League Cup semi-final

Rangers 0 Motherwell 2: Louis Moult double settles ill-tempered League Cup semi-final

A contest of thud, blood and stud at Hampden Park saw Motherwell into the final of the Betfred Scottish League Cup against Celtic at the same venue on November 26. The Fir Park striker, Louis Moult – a summer target for Rangers – became their nemesis with two goals after the break, but the occasion overall was ugly. The abrasive tone of the proceedings extended to the rival managers, both of whom were sent to the stand midway through the second half after an ugly square-up in front of the tunnel. Their dispute stemmed from a flying elbow by Ryan Bowman which caught Fabio Cardoso on the head and forced the Rangers defender to leave the field with blood streaming from his nose, to be replaced by the teenager, Ross McCrorie. Bowman had been cautioned in the first half for exactly the same action against Cardoso, so it was understandable that Pedro Caixinha should be incensed that the Motherwell man was permitted to stay on the field, but when the Portuguese coach and his opposite number Steve Robinson became embroiled on the edge of the pitch they were both dismissed by Steven McLean. Bowman’s second offence occurred directly in front of the referee and, even from the distance of the stands it looked immediately like a straight red card incident, a view that was reinforced by TV replays. Robinson, though, played the innocent card. “I thought the referee had a good game and there was no intent whatsoever from Ryan,” said the Motherwell manager. “Pedro was trying to get one of our players sent off and I stuck up for him and the referee sent us both to the stand.” Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha was sent to the stands Caixinha, meanwhile, had a hunted look, not for the first time this season, but made no attempt to evade his part in the overall failure. “It was a bad day for the players, it was a bad day for the club and I’m responsible for that bad day,” he said. To make matters worse for Caixinha, the spectacle of the Rangers faithful hurrying out of the stadium long before the final whistle was witnessed by the club chairman, Dave King, on one of his occasional visits to Glasgow from his home in South Africa. King was spotted beforehand in conversation with Kenny Miller, who has been excluded from Caixinha’s plans, a consequence of the fallout from the Old Firm game at Ibrox last month after which details of dressing room exchanges were revealed in the media. It is a certainty that Miller’s absence will be part of whatever discussion King has had or will have with his beleaguered manager. Caixinha cannot take refuge in the match statistics, which showed that Motherwell enjoyed the bulk of possession, as many shots on and off target as Rangers and a corner kick superiority of nine to four. In addition, although Rangers were entitled to a grievance about Bowman, they should have been down to 10 men when Bruno Alves aimed a kick at Moult off the ball, an action which will probably attract the attention of the Scottish Football Association’s compliance officer. Moreover, while Rangers will rue the three clear chances which fell to Josh Windass - each of which he put straight into the arms of Trevor Carson - Motherwell came within a fraction of another goal just before the break when Ryan Jack turned a shot from Cedric Kirke off the line. Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson was also given his marching orders By that stage, Rangers were beginning to rue their missed opportunities, especially since the blustery wind had blown into the faces of the Motherwell defenders. It was a certainty that when the conditions turned in their favour, the Steelmen would try to harness the wind to supply Moult. The breakthrough came seven minutes after the break when a corner kick dropped towards Jak Alnwick’s back post, where Peter Hartley headed off the crossbar, which also deflected Moult’s header from the rebound. This time the ball bounced down for the striker to hook his finish home from point blank range. Moult’s second contribution was a delight. With quarter of an hour left to play, Charles Dunne pushed up on the Motherwell left and caught the Rangers defence on the turn with a lob which bounced in front of Moult to permit him a perfect lob over the stranded Alnwick into the far corner of the net. “We didn't manage to cope with the expectation,” Caixinha said. “We let the opponents play the way they wanted and after the second goal we just disappeared as a team. “Overall, it was a poor performance from us. We were here to deliver to our fan-base the present of a place in the final and we haven't. I am responsible for that.” It remains to be seen whether or not he will be responsible for much longer.

Rangers 0 Motherwell 2: Louis Moult double settles ill-tempered League Cup semi-final

A contest of thud, blood and stud at Hampden Park saw Motherwell into the final of the Betfred Scottish League Cup against Celtic at the same venue on November 26. The Fir Park striker, Louis Moult – a summer target for Rangers – became their nemesis with two goals after the break, but the occasion overall was ugly. The abrasive tone of the proceedings extended to the rival managers, both of whom were sent to the stand midway through the second half after an ugly square-up in front of the tunnel. Their dispute stemmed from a flying elbow by Ryan Bowman which caught Fabio Cardoso on the head and forced the Rangers defender to leave the field with blood streaming from his nose, to be replaced by the teenager, Ross McCrorie. Bowman had been cautioned in the first half for exactly the same action against Cardoso, so it was understandable that Pedro Caixinha should be incensed that the Motherwell man was permitted to stay on the field, but when the Portuguese coach and his opposite number Steve Robinson became embroiled on the edge of the pitch they were both dismissed by Steven McLean. Bowman’s second offence occurred directly in front of the referee and, even from the distance of the stands it looked immediately like a straight red card incident, a view that was reinforced by TV replays. Robinson, though, played the innocent card. “I thought the referee had a good game and there was no intent whatsoever from Ryan,” said the Motherwell manager. “Pedro was trying to get one of our players sent off and I stuck up for him and the referee sent us both to the stand.” Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha was sent to the stands Caixinha, meanwhile, had a hunted look, not for the first time this season, but made no attempt to evade his part in the overall failure. “It was a bad day for the players, it was a bad day for the club and I’m responsible for that bad day,” he said. To make matters worse for Caixinha, the spectacle of the Rangers faithful hurrying out of the stadium long before the final whistle was witnessed by the club chairman, Dave King, on one of his occasional visits to Glasgow from his home in South Africa. King was spotted beforehand in conversation with Kenny Miller, who has been excluded from Caixinha’s plans, a consequence of the fallout from the Old Firm game at Ibrox last month after which details of dressing room exchanges were revealed in the media. It is a certainty that Miller’s absence will be part of whatever discussion King has had or will have with his beleaguered manager. Caixinha cannot take refuge in the match statistics, which showed that Motherwell enjoyed the bulk of possession, as many shots on and off target as Rangers and a corner kick superiority of nine to four. In addition, although Rangers were entitled to a grievance about Bowman, they should have been down to 10 men when Bruno Alves aimed a kick at Moult off the ball, an action which will probably attract the attention of the Scottish Football Association’s compliance officer. Moreover, while Rangers will rue the three clear chances which fell to Josh Windass - each of which he put straight into the arms of Trevor Carson - Motherwell came within a fraction of another goal just before the break when Ryan Jack turned a shot from Cedric Kirke off the line. Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson was also given his marching orders By that stage, Rangers were beginning to rue their missed opportunities, especially since the blustery wind had blown into the faces of the Motherwell defenders. It was a certainty that when the conditions turned in their favour, the Steelmen would try to harness the wind to supply Moult. The breakthrough came seven minutes after the break when a corner kick dropped towards Jak Alnwick’s back post, where Peter Hartley headed off the crossbar, which also deflected Moult’s header from the rebound. This time the ball bounced down for the striker to hook his finish home from point blank range. Moult’s second contribution was a delight. With quarter of an hour left to play, Charles Dunne pushed up on the Motherwell left and caught the Rangers defence on the turn with a lob which bounced in front of Moult to permit him a perfect lob over the stranded Alnwick into the far corner of the net. “We didn't manage to cope with the expectation,” Caixinha said. “We let the opponents play the way they wanted and after the second goal we just disappeared as a team. “Overall, it was a poor performance from us. We were here to deliver to our fan-base the present of a place in the final and we haven't. I am responsible for that.” It remains to be seen whether or not he will be responsible for much longer.

Rangers 0 Motherwell 2: Louis Moult double settles ill-tempered League Cup semi-final

A contest of thud, blood and stud at Hampden Park saw Motherwell into the final of the Betfred Scottish League Cup against Celtic at the same venue on November 26. The Fir Park striker, Louis Moult – a summer target for Rangers – became their nemesis with two goals after the break, but the occasion overall was ugly. The abrasive tone of the proceedings extended to the rival managers, both of whom were sent to the stand midway through the second half after an ugly square-up in front of the tunnel. Their dispute stemmed from a flying elbow by Ryan Bowman which caught Fabio Cardoso on the head and forced the Rangers defender to leave the field with blood streaming from his nose, to be replaced by the teenager, Ross McCrorie. Bowman had been cautioned in the first half for exactly the same action against Cardoso, so it was understandable that Pedro Caixinha should be incensed that the Motherwell man was permitted to stay on the field, but when the Portuguese coach and his opposite number Steve Robinson became embroiled on the edge of the pitch they were both dismissed by Steven McLean. Bowman’s second offence occurred directly in front of the referee and, even from the distance of the stands it looked immediately like a straight red card incident, a view that was reinforced by TV replays. Robinson, though, played the innocent card. “I thought the referee had a good game and there was no intent whatsoever from Ryan,” said the Motherwell manager. “Pedro was trying to get one of our players sent off and I stuck up for him and the referee sent us both to the stand.” Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha was sent to the stands Caixinha, meanwhile, had a hunted look, not for the first time this season, but made no attempt to evade his part in the overall failure. “It was a bad day for the players, it was a bad day for the club and I’m responsible for that bad day,” he said. To make matters worse for Caixinha, the spectacle of the Rangers faithful hurrying out of the stadium long before the final whistle was witnessed by the club chairman, Dave King, on one of his occasional visits to Glasgow from his home in South Africa. King was spotted beforehand in conversation with Kenny Miller, who has been excluded from Caixinha’s plans, a consequence of the fallout from the Old Firm game at Ibrox last month after which details of dressing room exchanges were revealed in the media. It is a certainty that Miller’s absence will be part of whatever discussion King has had or will have with his beleaguered manager. Caixinha cannot take refuge in the match statistics, which showed that Motherwell enjoyed the bulk of possession, as many shots on and off target as Rangers and a corner kick superiority of nine to four. In addition, although Rangers were entitled to a grievance about Bowman, they should have been down to 10 men when Bruno Alves aimed a kick at Moult off the ball, an action which will probably attract the attention of the Scottish Football Association’s compliance officer. Moreover, while Rangers will rue the three clear chances which fell to Josh Windass - each of which he put straight into the arms of Trevor Carson - Motherwell came within a fraction of another goal just before the break when Ryan Jack turned a shot from Cedric Kirke off the line. Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson was also given his marching orders By that stage, Rangers were beginning to rue their missed opportunities, especially since the blustery wind had blown into the faces of the Motherwell defenders. It was a certainty that when the conditions turned in their favour, the Steelmen would try to harness the wind to supply Moult. The breakthrough came seven minutes after the break when a corner kick dropped towards Jak Alnwick’s back post, where Peter Hartley headed off the crossbar, which also deflected Moult’s header from the rebound. This time the ball bounced down for the striker to hook his finish home from point blank range. Moult’s second contribution was a delight. With quarter of an hour left to play, Charles Dunne pushed up on the Motherwell left and caught the Rangers defence on the turn with a lob which bounced in front of Moult to permit him a perfect lob over the stranded Alnwick into the far corner of the net. “We didn't manage to cope with the expectation,” Caixinha said. “We let the opponents play the way they wanted and after the second goal we just disappeared as a team. “Overall, it was a poor performance from us. We were here to deliver to our fan-base the present of a place in the final and we haven't. I am responsible for that.” It remains to be seen whether or not he will be responsible for much longer.

Rangers 0 Motherwell 2: Louis Moult double settles ill-tempered League Cup semi-final

Pedro Caixinha under pressure after Rangers slump to Motherwell defeat

Pedro Caixinha under pressure after Rangers slump to Motherwell defeat

Pedro Caixinha under pressure after Rangers slump to Motherwell defeat

Louis Moult celebrates after scoring the first of his two goals for Motherwell in their 2-0 win against Rangers in the Scottish League Cup semi-final.

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 22, 2017 Motherwell’s Andy Rose celebrates with team mates at the end of the match REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 22, 2017 Motherwell’s Carl McHugh celebrates with team mates at the end of the match REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 22, 2017 Motherwell’s Peter Hartley REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 22, 2017 Motherwell’s Peter Hartley celebrates at the end of the match REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 22, 2017 Motherwell’s Louis Moult celebrates with his daughter at the end of the match REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 22, 2017 Motherwell’s Louis Moult celebrates with his daughter at the end of the match REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 22, 2017 Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha during the game REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 22, 2017 Motherwell’s Louis Moult celebrates scoring their second goal with team mates REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 22, 2017 Rangers’ Bruno Alves and team mates speak with referee Steven McLean REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 22, 2017 Rangers’ Bruno Alves, James Tavernier (2nd R) and Fabio Cardosa (R) in action with Motherwell’s Cedric Kipre (L) and Peter Hartley REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Rangers vs Motherwell - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 22, 2017 Motherwell’s Louis Moult scores their first goal REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

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