Dundee secured a remarkable result against Rangers at Dens despite being reduced to 10 men for 70 minutes of the game.
The dogged Dark Blues produced a heroic backs-to-the-wall performance to withstand intense pressure from the Glasgow giants with the draw lifting Jim McIntyre’s side off the bottom of the Premiership table on goal difference.
Dundee stormed into the lead as Kenny Miller scored his sixth goal in just four games before the home side’s Nathan Ralph was dismissed with the Dark Blues suffering a double whammy as Andy Halliday despatched the resultant free-kick into the back of the net.
Rangers were red-hot favourites to go on and comfortably take all three points but the Dark Blues would not be denied with the home players expending every last ounce of energy to secure a draw.
McIntyre made just one change from the team that beat Hamilton 4-0 in midweek with Andy Boyle coming in for the injured Darren O’Dea at the heart of the home defence.
In contrast, Rangers manager Steven Gerrard made wholesale changes from the side that lost to Aberdeen at Ibrox on Wednesday evening with Joe Worrall, Halliday, Jordan Rossiter, Ryan Kent, Eros Grezda and Kyle Lafferty being drafted in for Gareth McAuley, Jon Flanagan, Ovie Ejaria, Lassana Coulibaly, Glenn Middleton and the suspended Alfredo Morelos.
Rangers had the first opportunity of the match in just the sixth minute when Lafferty was played in on goal down the right with the striker trying to find the far corner with a low shot but Dundee keeper Jack Hamilton pulled off a vital diving stop to deny him.
However, it was the Dark Blues who took a sensational lead just three minutes later.
Ralph hit a long ball from the back towards Miller racing into the Rangers box. The visitors’ defender Connor Goldson looked to have the danger covered, only to have his pocket pinched by the veteran striker who prodded home past goalie Allan McGregor.
Rangers looked for an immediate response with Lafferty coming close with a low, angled drive from the left of the Dundee penalty area.
However, the game turned on its head in the 21st minute.
Ralph chopped down Daniel Candeias right on the edge of the home penalty box with referee Alan Muir taking his time before showing the defender a straight red card – the second occasion this season Dundee had been reduced to 10 men against the Glasgow side.
Halliday then stepped up to take the central free-kick and lashed the ball high past the helpless Hamilton into the top corner to bring his side level.
The Dark Blues came close to hitting back immediately when Jesse Curran swung a cross in from the right with the ball making its way to Miller but McGregor saved the striker’s shot with his legs.
Lafferty thought he had given his side the lead for the first time in the 32nd minute with a close-range finish past Hamilton but the linesman’s flag was up for offside.
Half-time duly arrived with the 10-man Dark Blues still level with Gerrard’s men.
Rangers would have been determined to make their one-man advantage really count as the second 45 kicked off but Dundee comfortably coped defensively in the early stages.
However, it was no surprise that the home side were becoming increasingly pegged back in their own half with the one-way traffic disrupted by a small glimmer of a chance when Curran raced through on the right but his shot was well wide of the target.
As the hour mark passed, the 3,940 away fans were becoming increasingly frustrated as their favourites struggled to pierce the dogged Dundee rearguard.
Dundee did break the siege in the 72nd minute with another half chance for Curran but his shot was deflected wide and the resulting corner came to nothing.
Rangers then had their best opportunity of the half when the ball broke to Ryan Jack on the edge of the home box but Hamilton dived to save the midfielder’s curling effort.
As the clock ticked down, the Dundee fans started to dare to believe McIntyre’s men could salvage a point from the game – indeed in the 85th minute they had a half chance to take all three as a slack Rangers pass from defence fell to Paul McGowan who played in sub Benji Kallman but the striker was dispossessed.
However, the Dark Blues successfully negotiated three minutes of extra time with the final whistle being greeted by a huge cheer and a standing ovation from the home support.
Attendance – 8,578.
Dundee – Hamilton, Kerr, Ralph, Woods (Spence, 86), Kusunga, Kamara, C. Miller, McGowan, K. Miller (Kallman, 76), Boyle, Curran.
Subs not used – Parish, Nabi, Inniss, Moore, Lambert.
Rangers – McGregor, Tavernier, Worrall, Goldson, Jack, Lafferty, Kent (Middleton, 45), Halliday (Ejaria, 69), Rossiter (Barasic, 57), Candeias, Grezda.
Subs not used – Foderingham, McCrorie, Katic, Coulibaly.
Referee – Alan Muir.