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Dec 5, 2009

Smith hails important win in SPL title race

Rangers manager Walter Smith paid tribute to Kris Boyd after the striker helped seal an important 3-1 win against Falkirk which took the Scottish champions back to the summit of the SPL ahead of Celtic's game later on Saturday.

Boyd's Scottish top-flight tally climbed to 151 as the 26-year-old moved within seven goals of equalling the record held by Celtic legend Henrik Larsson.

• Falkirk 1-3 Rangers

"It's a terrific level for him to reach," said Smith. "He played well today, as he has been doing for us in a lot of the games recently. He has got his goals and as long as he continues to get them, that's the main thing.

"It's difficult to put his goals into perspective. When you look at the age he is and the opportunity he has to keep adding to that tally, it's a fantastic achievement for a player to have scored that number of goals."

Boyd was replaced by Kyle Lafferty two minutes before Rangers earned a penalty, which was converted by Kenny Miller in his absence.

But Smith revealed the reason why he was denied his hat-trick, adding: "He was injured, he's got a thigh strain. He will obviously be a doubt for Wednesday's game against Sevilla.

"Do you think for a minute Boyd would have come off on two goals if he wasn't injured?"

The prolific goalscorer picked up a booking for over-exuberant celebrations after scoring his first of the day.

Boyd pulled up his jersey to reveal his torso to fans who had been taunting him about his weight throughout the game.

Smith said: "I didn't see his booking but I think these bookings are a bit harsh. I think supporters in general like to see a player celebrate, although I'm not so sure Kris was celebrating.

"I think he was maybe reacting to one or two taunts. He's quite proud of how he is looking at the moment."

Boyd's opener was set up by Madjid Bougherra, who was back in the starting line-up for the first time since the September defeat to Sevilla in the Champions League.

The defender has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently after returning late from international duty with Algeria for a third time and becoming embroiled in a bust-up with Miller after the striker criticised his behaviour.

Speaking of Bougherra's inclusion at Falkirk, Smith said: "It was a difficult decision because Danny Wilson has been playing very well.

"I just felt the younger players were having to play in a team that hadn't been playing too well and I tried to put the onus on our more experienced ones.

"Danny Wilson has been excellent for us and it was a difficult decision to leave him out.

"It had nothing to do with the football part, it was more to do with trying to place a level of pressure on our more experienced players."

He added: "I think possibly the World Cup made Madjid take his eye off the ball a little bit. Any time he has played for the team, he has never shown that he has been short in terms of commitment."

Bottom side Falkirk threw themselves a lifeline when Pedro Moutinho pulled a goal back after Boyd had handed Rangers a two-goal lead.

But any hopes of a comeback were dashed when substitute DaMarcus Beasley was felled in the box by Darren Barr and referee William Collum pointed to the spot, despite the United States international apparently handling the ball before being fouled.

Eddie May felt a wrong decision ultimately killed the game for his Falkirk side but had no intention of following Motherwell boss Jim Gannon's lead by writing to the Scottish Football Association to complain about the standard of refereeing.

The Bairns boss said: "It wasn't a penalty. The referee got it wrong. I'm sure he got a few things right today as well as wrong, just like myself.

"If he watches it, it was handball before the tackle. It's a difficult job and I'm not going to be Jim Gannon and write letters or anything. We just have to get on with it."

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