Attack is the best form of defence and this afternoon, with the formidable front line-up of Prso, Boyd, Buffel and Lovenkrands, Rangers ran riot in Dundee.

Two goals in as many minutes got the visitors up and running mid-way through the first half and on course for their first win at Tannadice since August 2003, before Boyd added another two after the break.

Ronald Waterreus was back between the sticks, after missing last week’s 1-0 victory over Dunfermline with flu, but a groin strain ruled Chris Burke out.

Peter Lovenkrands therefore slotted in on the right, with Dado Prso on the left and the Croatian looked sharp from the off.

His driving runs had United full back David McCracken in all sorts of trouble and after 19 minutes Derek Stillie was called into action to save a low shot.

60 seconds later he surged to the byline and cut the ball back for Kris Boyd, but the former Kilmarnock striker took his eye off the ball and totally miss kicked.

Tannadice has always been a tricky venue for Rangers, particularly in more recent times, and the home side almost went ahead after 23 minutes.

McCracken managed a rare appearance in Rangers’ half when he broke forward to drill a low cross into the box where Barry Robson was waiting, but Kyrgiakos was alert to nip in ahead of the midfielder to stab clear.

Prso now appears to be back to his best following a two-month injury lay-off and put in a power of work both offensively and in defence.

Within a minute the former Monaco hitman saw his header rebound off Stillie’s right hand post, before tracking back to intercept David Fernandez’s cross in his own box to clear.

Desperate to capitalise on Hearts’ Scottish Cup involvement today and close the gap, Rangers produced a strong, professional performance from the start and in the 29th minute they got their reward.

It was a move that was started and finished by Prso. 

Having collected the ball mid-way in the United half, the 31-year-old broke down the left but with nothing to aim at, kept possession, turned McCracken inside then out before unleashing a fine curling shot into the net.

It was not dissimilar to his goal against Famagusta at Ibrox and a minute later he turned provider.

Gers broke quickly into the opposing half through Prso and he fed the ball to Barry Ferguson on the edge of the area.

Unselfishly the skipper played a first time pass through to Boyd and the ex-Killie man made no mistake to lift the ball over Stillie.

Collin Samuel proved to be the home side’s main threat on Waterreus’ goal and he forced the Dutchman into two good saves before half time.

But the second period started much the same way the first finished with Rangers on the attack.

Steven Smith picked out Lovenkrands with a cross-field pass and once again Ferguson escaped his marker to charge into the box, but the captain couldn’t connect properly and Stillie smothered the ball.

United felt they deserved a penalty on 50 minutes when Julien Rodriguez collided with Samuel in the box, but John Underhill disagreed.

A goal at this point for Craig Brewster’s men would have rejuvenated their hopes of taking something from the game, but instead Gers went up the pitch and surged further ahead.

Once again Prso was the instigator when he beat McCracken to deliver a low cross and like all good poachers Boyd was inside the six-yard box to tap home.

In the 57th minute the 22-year-old should have grabbed his hat-trick when Lovenkrands laid it on a plate, but again Stillie saved well.

Barry Ferguson was in fine form in midfield, despite his ankle problems, but at 3-0 Alex McLeish decided enough was enough and replaced the skipper with Gavin Rae.

United kept fighting and a mix up between Alan Hutton and Waterreus handed them a lifeline when Samuel bundled the ball over the line.

But the United resurgence ended there as the Light Blues stepped up another gear.

Desperate for his second Rangers treble, Boyd kept pressing and latched on to Buffel’s delicate chip into the box, however, could only watch as his header rebounded off the post.

But with seven minutes remaining he finally made the breakthrough, again from Buffel’s delivery, to stab the ball home for his 30th goal of the season.

It was an impressive performance from the Light Blues and in this form securing Champions League football next season looks very likely.

DUNDEE UNITED: 1 Stillie; 3 McCracken, 18 Kenneth, 15 Mair, 6 Mulgrew; 21 Samuel, 7 Kerr, 4 McInnes (Duff 72), 11 Robson; 20 Fernandez, 9 Miller

SUBS: Samson, Archibald, Robertson, Cameron, Gardiner, Goodwillie

RANGERS: 25 Waterreus; 20 Hutton, 16 Rodriguez, 14 Kyrgiakos, 34 Smith; 26 Lovenkrands, 6 Ferguson (G Rae 66), 7 Hemdani, 9 Prso; 15 Boyd (Novo 87), 4 Buffel

SUBS: Klos, Ricksen, Andrews, Murray, N’Guessan

REFEREE: J Underhill

ATTENDANCE: 11, 213

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