GLASGOW, April 6 (Reuters) - Rangers wasted the chance to move nine points clear of champions Celtic in the Scottish Premier League when they were held to a thrilling 3-3 draw at Dundee United on Sunday.
They now top the standings on 75 points from 30 games after Celtic crashed 1-0 at home to Motherwell on Saturday to lie second seven points behind.
'Some slackness, defensively, lead to a terrific game. I don't think anyone could argue about the result,' Rangers manager Walter Smith said. 'If it ended up 5-5 it would not have been out of place.'
United went ahead in the first half with a scrambled effort from Norwegian defender Christian Kalvenes in the 37th minute which sparked a goal spree.
Willo Flood floated in a free-kick from the right which Darren Dods headed against Rangers keeper Allan McGregor from six metres and Kalvenes pounced to send a header against the right post then bundle in the rebound from a metre.
Rangers hit back with David Weir hurtling in to meet a swirling free-kick from skipper Barry Ferguson and hammer a header into the top left two minutes from the interval.
Noel Hunt headed United 2-1 in front in 51 minutes with a close range effort into the top left following Sean Dillon's lobbed cross from the right.
But once more Rangers equalised and this time Spanish striker Nacho Novo fastened on to a through ball from Ferguson to round keeper Lukasz Zaluska and slide it into the middle of the net from 10 metres.
United went ahead for a third time with an own goal from Rangers defender Carlos Cuellar.The Spaniard hooked an attempted clearance into the roof of the net following David Robertson's low cross in the 65th minute.
Two minutes later Rangers' Kris Boyd latched onto a dreadful pass back by Flood to clip a 15 metre shot over sprawling Pole Zaluska and in off the right post for 3-3.