Writer: Tactful Sheik
Date:Sunday March 16 2008
Dundee United have undeservedly lost the Scottish League Cup at Hampden Park, after Rangers twice came from behind and won the game 3-2 on penalty kicks.
United were determined to win the Cup for Chairman Eddie Thompson, who is seriously ill with a brain tumour, but even he turned out to watch his beloved side in action.
Craig Levein's side should have lifted the Cup for the 3rd time in the clubs history, after taking 1-0 lead in the 1st half of the match, but a late blunder from Mark Kerr threw Walter Smith's side a lifeline.
Noel Hunt's scrambled the ball into the net in the 34th minute through a ruck of players, after Mark De Vries played the ball into the 6 yard box,
Dundee United should have had a 53rd minute penalty, after Carlos Cuellar physcially assulted Christian Kalvenes inside the box, grabbing the defender by the throat and shoving him to the ground, but referee Kenny Clark waved play on.
After managing to hold Rangers at bay for most of the game, the United defence were on target for a clean sheet, until midfielder Kerr mistakenly gifted Rangers sub Kris Boyd a gift of a goal.
Kerr should have blasted Wilkie's clearing header to safety, but instead tried to pass the ball back to keeper Zaluska and Boyd pounced on the poor pass back to equalise in the 85th minute.
Lee McCulloch should have seen red in the closing stages of the regulation time, after hauling back ill Flood when he was through on goal, but was extremely lucky to avoid even a yellow card.
3 minutes into extra-time United went 2-1 infront after Mark De Vries slotted the ball into the bottom right-hand corner, after an assist from Prince Buaben.
Rangers tried every trick in the book to cheat their way back into the match, with Chris Burke diving at every opportunity and tricking referee Kenny Clark falling for his antics every time.
Kris Boyd then forced the game into penalties, with another equaliser just 7minutes from the end, after he headed Steven Davis's cross passed the stranded Lukasz Zaluska from 6-yards.
United had the slight advantage of taking the 1st penalty, and shooting into the Tangerine end of Hampden, with Willo Flood have the unenviable task of going first.
However, United's man-of-the-match confidently blasted the ball into the top-left hand corner of the goal to put his side 1-0 infront.
Jean Claude Darcheville took the first Rangers penalty, but the pressure was obviously too much, as he knocked his spot kick off the crossbar.
United had the chance to take a 2-0 lead in penalties, but Craig Conway hit the right-hand post and Steven Whittaker equalled the score at 1-1 each.
Mark De Vries cooley reinstalled United's lead, by sending Allan McGregor the wrong way, but Steven Davis made it 2-2 also sending Zaluska the wrong way.
Suddenly, things took a turn for the worst for United, after David Robertson's penalty was saved - but Zaluska kept United in the match by also saving Lee McCulloch's shot.
With the score line poised at 2-2, captain and lifelong fan Lee Wilkie stepped up and unfortunately saw his spot kick saved by McGregor.
That gave Kris Boyd the chance to net for the 3rd time in the match and secure a very undeserved win for the Glasgow side.
Dundee United 2-2 Rangers
(Rangers win 3-2 on penalty kick)
Date:Sunday March 16 2008
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