Dunfermline Athletic 1-4 Rangers

By Clive LindsayBBC Scotland

Reborn striker Lee McCulloch inspired Rangers as they came from behind to ease aside basement side Dunfermline.

The Pars had already struck the post and had a penalty claim denied by the time Andy Kirk slid in to open the scoring after 16 minutes.

But David Healy slotted in the equaliser eight minutes later.

McCulloch's powerful finish six minutes from half time, Sone Aluko's 70th-minute thunderbolt and Salim Kerkar's late drive secured Rangers' victory.

It ensured that Ally McCoist's side bounced back from the disappointment of exiting the Scottish Cup last weekend to keep the pressure on Scottish Premier League leaders Celtic.

Dunfermline, who remain bottom of the table and without a home win this season, had been forced to reshuffle, with Gary Mason being drafted in to replace ineligible on-loan Rangers midfielder Kyle Hutton.

Rangers' only change was to prove significant, with McCulloch replacing recent signing Mervan Celik, so disappointing against Dundee United last weekend.

McCulloch, who started his career up front before moving into midfield, was employed as an emergency striker to partner David Healy.

Healy scored his fourth goal in seven games for Rangers
Healy scored his fourth goal in seven games for Rangers

The veteran's Scots' presence helped Rangers put early pressure on Chris Smith, the goalkeeper whose recent performances have been peppered with mistakes and nerves but who was called on again in the absence of the injured Iain Turner.

However, the Pars were unfortunate not to go ahead with their first venture forward on the break.

David Graham intercepted a pass intended for Kyle Bartley, the central defender again looking uncomfortable as stand-in right back, before cracking an 18-yard drive off the face of the far post.

Kirk's shot on the rebound was blocked in front of goal and Liam Buchanan appeared to be nudged from behind by Bartley before the ball was eventually cleared.

Referee Brian Winter failed to blow for a penalty but was soon signalling for a goal to the home side.

Recent signing from Rangers Jordan McMillan's superb crossfield pass found Paddy Boyle and, when Sasa Papac failed to clear the ball across the face of goal, Kirk swept it home at the back post.

Rangers responded and were level within eight minutes, although there was a touch of fortune when Alex Keddie's attempt to clear in front of his own goal struck Maurice Edu and rebounded straight to Healy for a simple tap-in from 10 yards.

The Pars were being pegged back and a McCulloch flick set up Steven Davis for a 10-yard volley off the top of the crossbar from a tight angle.

McCulloch was becoming increasingly influential and, when Carlos Bocanegra headed a Davis free-kick back across the penalty area, the poorly marked former Scotland international hammered the ball into the roof of the net from 15 yards.

The former Motherwell and Wigan Athletic man was first to threaten after the break with a header over the crossbar as he sought to add to his 50th goal in Scottish football.

Dunfermline lost their creative force in midfield, Mark Kerr, to injury after 64 minutes and soon suffered a killer blow when Aluko's dipping and swerving 25-yard drive appeared to deceive Smith.

The goalscorer prevented the Pars almost immediately restoring the one-goal deficit by clearing a Keddie's powerful downward header off the line.

Smith was unfortunate five minutes from full-time when he produced a fine reaction stop on the line to deny substitute Celik's close-range header, but Kerkar slotted in the rebound from 14 yards.

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