Overall it was a tale of wingers at Ibrox as Andrei Kanchelskis produced his best performance of the season, topped by a goal, while the fans got a glimpse of the future in the shape of 18-year-old Chris Burke, who made a dream debut by scoring the fifth goal.

And the other hugely satisfying aspect for Alex McLeish was the performance of Christian Nerlinger, who played his first 90 minutes since August and looked mighty impressive in midfield.

McCann has built his reputation on laying on goals for others and he has regularly delivered the goods with a variety of crosses from the left hand side.

This was exemplified in the perfect manner last Sunday when the winger picked out Claudio Caniggia to score the final goal in the 4-0 CIS Cup triumph over Ayr United.

Some would say he should score more goals given the pace he possesses to hurt opponents and before last night he had only managed three strikes.

However, he sorted that out with his first hat-trick for Rangers to make quite sure there was not going to be a title party in the East End of Glasgow as the Light Blues demolished the Ayrshiremen.

Celtic were hoping for a Killie win to clinch the Championship but there was scarcely a chance of that as Rangers – with a side which can justifiably be described as far from their strongest – romped to victory.

Given his height it was perhaps even more remarkable that two of McCann’s efforts came from headers, the firsy of which gave Rangers the lead with in the 24th minute.

It was an unsavoury incident which lead to the opener when Alan Mahood, a man not renowned for restraint in the tackle, caught Billy Dodds on the shin after the ball had gone.

The fierce challenge, some 35 yards out, inevitably lead to a yellow card from John Rowbotham. Lorenzo Amoruso took the free kick and whipped a great ball which reached the back post where McCann was perfectly postioned to glance a header past Colin Meldrum.

The ball seemed to take an eternity to go over the line as it stuck on the heavy surface but it was in the net before Dodds made absoulutely sure.

It was Amoruso who was inspirational for the second Rangers goal in 33 minutes when he brilliantly broke a rare break forward by Kilmarnock just inside his own half.

The big chap motored forward and released Andrei Kanchelskis whose pace and power took him away from the chasing Gary Hay. It looked as though the Russian winger would look to set up Lovenkrands but instead he drilled a low right foot shot into the left corner.

It was vintage Kanchelskis, something which has been rare commodity in recent times, and indicative of his performance all night.

Kanchelskis maybe be leaving in the summer but he was in the mood and may just have played his way into the side for Sunday’s Tennent’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Partick Thistle.

In saying that he overdid it a bit in the second half when he took the mickey out of Gary Hary by making a 360 degree turn on the byline but the Copland Stand fans loved it.

He was involved in Rangers’ third goal as he worked the ball wide for Mo Ross in 39 minutes. Ross spotted McCann at the back post and delivered a great cross which McCann finished in style with a left foot strike.

The Scotland star might have racked up his treble before half-time when Kanchelskis teed him with an excellent ball from the right but he wasted the chance by waiting to hit the ball with his left foot which enabled Kevin McGowne to block.

However, McCann did not have long to wait. On the hour Kanchelskis dazzled Killie with a cute 1-2 with Dodds and then delivered the perfect cross for McCann who gleefully headed into the net to claim the match ball.

Killie were in danger of being utterly destroyed, which is all the more remarkable when you consider they were supposed to be fighting for a top six place.

Perhaps, understandably, Rangers eased up a little and Alex McLeish was able to give Tero Penttila his first taste of team action for nearly two years, ironically a 2-0 win over Killie on May 7, 2000, sending him on for Arthur Numan.

However, it was his second substitution which brought the house down. Chris Burke is still eligible for the under-18 side and one of his main tasks at Murray Park is to clean McLeish’s boots but he made a sensational entry to the big time.

The teenage winger looked excellent on the right side and topped a dream moment by scoring the fifth, albeit with the aid of a deflection.

The little lad scampered down the right in 80 minutes and produced a cross cum shot which deflected off Hessey and flew into the left corner. What a moment for the youngster.

It was the perfect end to a tremendous night for Rangers as McLeish stretched his domestic unbeaten record to 21 matches.


RANGERS: Klos; Ross, Malcolm, Amoruso, Numan (Penttila 74); Kanchelskis (Burke 78), Hughes, Nerlinger, McCann; Dodds, Lovenkrands. Subs not used – McGregor, Caniggia, Latapy.

Bookings: Ross (15)

KILMARNOCK: Meldrum; Canero, Innes, McGowne, Hessey, Hay; Mitchell, McDonald (Fowler 71), Mahood (Boyd 45); McLaren (63), Dargo. Subs not used – Stewart, Ngonge.

Bookings: Mahood (23), Hessey (70), Dargo (72)

Ref: John Rowbotham.

Att: 40,768.

Man of the match: Neil McCann

Moment of the match: Little Chris Burke’s dream debut goal.


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