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Refs too scared to rule against Rangers, says Levein

SoccerNews in Scottish Premier League 11 May 2008

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Craig Levein launched a scathing attack on Scottish referees and claimed Rangers are protected from defeat after watching his Dundee United side lose 3-1 at Ibrox on Saturday.

The result meant Rangers have closed the gap on leaders Celtic to one point ahead of Celtic's hosting of Hibernian on Sunday, although Rangers have two games in hand on their arch rivals.

The Ibrox side's title-boosting win has also given them confidence ahead of their Uefa Cup final on Wednesday against Zenit Saint Petersburg.

United boss Levein meanwhile was furious after United were denied a penalty and a perfectly good goal was ruled offside by referee Mike McCurry with the score at 2-0.

The Tannadice team's boss said: “It's impossible to beat Rangers at Ibrox. The referee bottled it at the penalty. He knew it was a penalty but if he gave it he would have to send off David Weir.

“He knew it was important to Rangers and knew how much grief he would get so he couldn't give it.

“I would have fancied our chances if we went to 2-1 and Rangers were down to 10 men.

“Then we scored a perfectly good goal that hits David Weir and goes in but the referee gives offside.

“But who cares about Dundee United when Rangers have an important game which could determine the league championship?”

Levein continued: “The players are furious because they played well and deserved to get something but we'd have been better staying in the house.

“I feel that because Rangers at Ibrox, going for the title, people say 'we can't have United winning that one'.

“The referee could have phoned me in the morning and just told me 'Rangers are going to win so just stay home'. There was absolutely no point in us even turning up.

“You can't win here, it's absolutely impossible.”

Levein is fully aware that his comments will land him in trouble with the Scottish Premier League bosses but says he is fed up keeping quiet about what he sees as injustices against his side.

He said: “I'll be sitting in front of a disciplinary panel getting fined in a few weeks but I kept my mouth shut after the League Cup Final against Rangers when we were denied a stonewall penalty.

“All that mattered on Saturday was the importance of winning for Rangers. Can you imagine this the other way round. Mike McCurry would never referee another game.

“I'm furious but nothing will change and Rangers will never be allowed to lose an important game at Ibrox.”

Rangers had opened the scoring in the seventh minute when Kevin Thomson's free-kick from the left found Nacho Novo at the back post and the Spaniard headed beyond United's Polish goalkeeper Lukasz Zaluska.

In the 18th minute Novo scored his second with a stunning left-foot shot from the corner of the 18-yard box which flew into the opposite top corner of the net.

United could have had a penalty in the 54th minute, when Rangers defender David Weir appeared to foul Noel Hunt in the 18-yard box, but referee McCurry waved away their claims to the disgust of Levein.

The visitors looked to have pulled one back in the 71st minute when Danny Swanson's shot from 25 yards deflected off Weir, wrong-footing goalkeeper Neil Alexander, and found the back of the net.

Inexplicably, however, referee McCurry ruled the goal out for offside.

In the 76th minute the visitors did pull one back when Mark De Vries directed a header into the corner of the net from 12-yards.

But Rangers completed the victory in injury time when Barry Ferguson squared for substitute Jean-Claude Darcheville who confidently sent a first-time shot into the corner of the net.

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