Barca too good for Gers
Barcelona enjoyed a comfortable 2-0 victory over Rangers at Camp Nou to take charge of Group E.
Last Updated: 12/11/07 4:03pm
Barcelona showed their class with a comfortable 2-0 victory to inflict a first UEFA Champions League defeat of the season on Rangers in Group E.
Walter Smith's side might have held the Spanish giants at Ibrox two weeks' ago but it was a different story at Camp Nou as soon as Barca took an early lead.
Thierry Henry slid in at the far post to bundle home Lionel Messi's header, albeit via a post and a hand, after just seven minutes of the game.
The visitors' game plan of again frustrating Barca could not work after falling behind and Lionel Messi fired in a second two minutes before the break and there was always the feeling that would be enough for the points.
The Camp Nou had been the scene of one of Rangers' most famous triumphs, when they beat Moscow Dynamo here in 1972 to win the European Cup Winners' Cup.
Heroes from that squad returned to the stadium this week to see if the current Rangers team could produce a similarly historic achievement, but Smith's current crop were brushed aside by the Catalan giants.
Rangers were unbeaten in all seven of their European matches heading into this contest, but that record came to a disappointing if not unexpected end tonight.
The result leaves Rangers still second in Group E on seven points, but third-placed Lyon are now just a point behind following their 4-2 win over Stuttgart.
There were just five minutes on the clock when Henry slid in to notch his 44th Champions League goal after Messi had headed Ronaldinho's deep ball to the far post back across Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor.
After Messi had curled in a shot straight at McGregor, Rangers briefly threatened in the 14th minute with a DaMarcus Beasley header that drifted wide.
Andres Iniesta sent a curling effort just wide before Ronaldinho fired in a stinging shot that McGregor did well to tip over at full stretch.
McGregor then kept out an effort from Henry, but the 25-year-old Scot could do little to prevent Barca going 2-0 ahead just before the break.
Ronaldinho and Messi played a clever one-two on the edge of the box and although the Brazilian's effort was saved by McGregor, Messi was on hand to turn home the loose ball.
Barca continued to make all the running after the break, and Xavi saw two shots go just wide while Messi and Henry were denied by McGregor.
Off the pitch, tension was mounting behind one of the goals where Barca and a smattering of Rangers fans were located, an incident which had escalated from the first half.
Objects were thrown between the two sets of supporters and, while security guards had been employed earlier to try to diffuse the situation, riot police made their presence known at the start of the second half.
Iniesta and Messi missed golden opportunities, before Rangers coach Smith gave Cousin some support up front, sending on Jean-Claude Darcheville and Nacho Novo.
Rangers had a rare chance to test home goalkeeper Victor Valdes in the 81st minute when Darcheville won a free-kick 25 yards out.
The Frenchman took the shot himself, but although his was a well-struck effort, it went straight into Valdes' midriff.
McGregor then almost gifted Barca a third goal with four minutes to go when he let Bojan's attempted lob slip through his grasp.
However, the Rangers goalkeeper managed to recover possession before the ball crossed the line, denying 17-year-old Bojan the chance to become the youngest scorer in Champions League history.
Novo finally gave Valdes something serious to think about in injury-time when he connected well with a volley at the far post - but Valdes did well to keep it out low down to his right.
|2||1st Half Goals||0|
|9||Shots on Target||2|
|5||Shots off Target||1|