Jimmy Calderwood’s side had drawn 1-1 with the Light Blues on the last day of last term here but the other three meetings were comfortable Gers victories and this match was no different.

Alex McLeish had spoken of tempo and application before the SPL clash and the attitude of his players was spot on once again as they powered to their fourth accomplished league success in a row.

Big Eck was forced to make one change to the side that beat Aberdeen last weekend and Claudio Caniggia replaced Peter Lovenkrands who missed out with a slight knee problem. 

The veteran Argentinian hit man had not started a domestic game this season but he grabbed his chance with both hands and bagged a glorious hat-trick, much to the delight of the travelling Rangers supporters.

The Pars started brightly and the striking pair of Stevie Crawford and Craig Brewster caused Rangers a few early problems but McLeish’s side quickly took control of the game, with Barry Ferguson and Mikel Arteta pulling the strings in midfield, and raced into an eleventh minute lead.

Fernando Ricksen’s right wing cross caused havoc in the home side’s penalty area and broke nicely to the unmarked Caniggia. He danced past Marco Ruitenbeek and tapped the ball into the empty net to send McLeish’s Blue and White Army into raptures.

Ronald de Boer, Shota Arveladze and Caniggia looked impressive throughout and the trio created a number of chances in the first-half, with Shota having the pick of the bunch. He forced two excellent saves from Pars stopper Ruitenbeek and Calderwood had the Dutch goalkeeper to thank for keeping his side in the game at this point.

The Blue tide was relentless, however, and Spanish sensation Mikel Arteta made it 2-0 with a sublime effort, his first for the club, midway through the half.

Caniggia’s pass found the youngster 25-yards from goal, he rode Lee Bullen’s challenge and cracked a stunning right foot curler into the top corner. The former PSG star raced towards the away dug out to exchange high five’s with his manager who was naturally delighted with his debut strike for Rangers.

McLeish’s troops were playing slick, incisive football by now and Arveladze and Craig Moore forced Ruitenbeek into action once again.

The Gers have been criticised for not killing teams off when dominating but that could not be levelled at the club today as Fernando Ricksen finished the game as a contest before half-time. Arteta’s corner broke to the Dutchman on the edge of the area, he took a touch a rattled a low left-foot shot into the corner of the net. 

Calderwood must have given his players a rocket during the interval but Rangers were in no mood to halt the onslaught in the second period and Barry Ferguson continued his fine scoring run with yet another penalty on 56 minutes. 

Scott Wilson was enduring a torrid time on his first Pars appearance against his old Ibrox team-mates, he fouled Arveladze in the box and referee McDonald had no choice but to point to the spot.

Captain Marvel kept his cool as usual, sent Ruitenbeek the wrong way and accepted the acclaim of the visiting Light Blue fans.

Claudio Caniggia pounced on another Wilson error minutes later to blast home from close-range and the former Dundee ace wrapped up a fine afternoon at the office with the final goal midway through the second-half. Mikel Arteta’s short free-kick fell nicely for the veteran forward once again and he dispatched a fine right-foot drive past Ruitenbeek, who was Dunfermline’s best player despite the scoreline.

£12 million striker Tore Andre Flo wasn’t missed then, even though he scored on his Sunderland debut against Man Utd, and Billy Dodds replaced the Norwegian on the bench. The ex-Scotland international was given a run out late in the day, along with talented teenager Stephen Hughes and Bert Konterman, but by then the points were well and truly heading back to Glasgow.

Another excellent three points then for McLeish’s men then and a clear declaration of SPL championship intent.

The only downside on the day was the slight knock Stephen Hughes sustained minutes after coming on and he’s almost certain to miss out on Scotland’s under 21 friendly with Israel on Wednesday and Northern Ireland on Friday.

RANGERS: (4-3-3) Klos; Muscat, Numan, Moore, Malcolm; Ricksen, Ferguson (c)(Konterman 81), Arteta(Hughes 74); Caniggia, Arveladze, De Boer(Dodds 77).

Subs not used: McGregor, Ross.

Bookings: Arteta 61mins

DUNFERMLINE: (3-4-3) Ruitenbeek; Wilson, Bullen (Dair 60), Skerla; Kilgannon (McGroarty 74), Nicholson(Dempsey 80), Thomson, Hampshire; Brewster, Crawford, Mason

Subs not used: Stillie, Walker

Bookings: Barry Nicholson 29mins, Dair 65mins

Referee: Douglas McDonald

Man of the match – Claudio Caniggia for a stunning hat-trick on his first start of the campaign.

Attendance: 8948

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