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By ESPN Staff

Dundee's Levein slams ref after Ibrox defeat

Dundee United manager Craig Levein launched a scathing attack on referee Mike McCurry following his team's 3-1 defeat to Rangers at Ibrox - claiming he 'bottled' crucial decisions.

The win allowed Rangers to slash Celtic's lead at the summit of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League to a single point but ended United's hopes of a third-place finish and a UEFA Cup slot for next season.

Levein argued his side should have had a penalty, that David Weir should have been shown a red card as a result of his foul in the incident, and that a perfectly good goal by Danny Swanson was incorrectly disallowed for offside.

Levein confronted referee McCurry in a touchline exchange, and revealed afterwards: 'I said to him that we were as well not turning up. What was the point? We were as well going home.

'Mike could have phoned me this morning and said: `Look, Rangers are going to get the three points today - just tell your lads to stay in the house.'

'It's impossible to win here in important games. The referee has bottled it at the penalty - that was my thoughts if you want to know the truth. He knew, if he had given the penalty, he would have had to send Davie Weir off.

'In this game, who gives a toss about Dundee United? Who cares? Swanson's goal was a good goal. It hit Davie Weir and went in.

'Important decisions are what referees are judged on. The players are furious. We played well today.

'If we had got a penalty, and got back to 2-1 and with them down to 10 men, I would have fancied us strongly to win the game because I thought we were the better side.

'That guy today knew it was a penalty kick but knew the game was so important to Rangers that he couldn't give it.

'The linesman has probably had an even better view than the referee but he's not going to put his head above the parapet.

'It's Rangers, at Ibrox, so you can't win. An important game going for a title decider? You can't have Dundee United winning that game.'

Levein also accused Kirk Broadfoot of punching Noel Hunt in the face and Daniel Cousin of headbutting Lee Wilkie.

'I tell you what will happen now, I'll get my wrists slapped for having a go at the referee,' added the United boss.

'I'll be sitting in front of six or eight guys at some disciplinary committee in two or three weeks' time, getting a fine.

'After the [CIS Insurance] Cup final, I did my absolute best not to have a go at the referee [Kenny Clark] for denying us a blatant penalty but maybe people are mistaking kindness for weakness on my part.

'There is no doubt that if you add what happened today to what happened in the cup final, I've got every right to be furious about these decisions.'

Asked if there were any positives he could take from the game, Levein replied: 'Mike McCurry is not going to referee another one of our games this season.

'This is my livelihood, this is what I do for a living. Over the season is how you end up in third, fourth or fifth place but these decisions add up.

'It could mean an extra £125,000 for a league place added to my budget and an extra player for next season.

'It might mean when I've got an injury that I can turn to the bench and put a good player on instead of a kid.

'But people don't think about that. It's all about the pressure that's on Rangers, the importance of this match. And if you give a decision against Rangers you will get absolutely hammered.

'Can you imagine if this was the other way around? Mike McCurry would never referee another game.

'But we are only Dundee United. It doesn't really matter.'

Rangers boss Walter Smith refused to be drawn into the row, simply saying: 'We had two penalty claims against Motherwell the other night and nobody asked me about them after the game.'

Two first-half goals from Nacho Novo gave Rangers the lead against United, before Mark de Vries set up a tense finale to the match by pulling a goal back.

Jean-Claude Darcheville came off the bench to seal the win with a last-minute strike, but the focus was on Novo, who made his case for a place in the team to face Zenit St Petersburg in Wednesday's UEFA Cup final.

'Nacho Novo's contribution overall has been terrific,' said Smith.

'His goals today were more than welcome and he could have got himself a hat-trick which, for the amount of endeavour he put in, he would have deserved.

'The one thing my side don't lack is a level of character and determination to win a game and they showed that again today. It was a big game for both sides and we are delighted to win it.'

Kevin Thomson hobbled out of the action early in the second half but is expected to be passed fit for the Zenit clash.

Smith said: 'He took a knock on the ankle which was stiffening up at half-time and we thought we had a bit of a problem with it, as was the case. But the physios are hopeful he will be okay for the game on Wednesday.'