Brave Gers bow out
By Alex Livie
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Rangers bowed out of Europe at Villarreal on the away goals rule.
Rangers bowed out of Europe at Villarreal on Tuesday, but Alex McLeish's men can head home to Glasgow with their heads held high after pushing the Spaniards all the way.
A 1-1 draw on the night saw The Gers slip out of the UEFA Champions League on the away goals rule, having drawn 2-2 at Ibrox last month.
Rangers were in dreamland just 12 minutes in as Peter Lovenkrands fired them ahead, but the Yellow Submarines emerged from their slumber at the start of the second half to equalise through Rodolfo Arrubarena.
McLeish's men pushed valiantly for a winner in the last 15 minutes and fashioned a couple of presentable chances, most notably the one which was squandered by Kris Boyd, but they failed to really test Sebastian Viera.
The Gers were roared on by some 5,000 travelling fans and they started extremely positively, with Chris Burke and Hamed Namouchi setting the tone when letting fly from distance, albeit without success.
The Yellow Submarines were extremely lacklustre early on and were thankful to Viera on seven minutes as he parried a low drive from Thomas Buffel following some neat passing from the visitors.
Rangers may be toiling on the domestic front, they struggled to overcome Falkirk at the weekend, but European football appears to suit them and they secured an advantage their play merited on 12 minutes.
A sloppy pass set Rangers free and slick passing allowed Barry Ferguson to bear down on goal. Viera dashed off his line, but appeared to pull out of a challenge with Ferguson and the loose ball fell invitingly for Lovenkrands to slot home.
The goal did little to spark Villarreal into life, although Julien Rodriguez had to time his tackle to perfection to thwart Juan Roman Riquelme in the box.
The pace of Lovenkrands was a worry for the Spaniards and the Danish flyer dashed in between defenders and had a chance to lob Viera who had abandoned his post, but he did not spot the Uruguayan off his line and Villarreal were able to clear.
Diego Forlan, who had been starved of service for the most part, skipped clear of a static Rangers back-line and drew Ronald Waterreus from goal. However, he disappointingly shot straight at the Dutch keeper and the ball bounced away to safety.
Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini made two changes at the interval and they started the second half with a greater sense of purpose. Riquelme failed to have any sort of impact in the opening 45 minutes, but he did not take long to stamp his class on the contest as he played a key part in the leveller.
The Argentine schemer spotted Forlan's clever run down the right and played a fine ball into the Uruguayan's path. The former Manchester United man sucked in three Rangers defenders and he intelligently rolled the ball across the face of goal for Arrubarena to slot home.
Rangers fashioned a chance to regain the lead within five minutes, but it fell to Sotiris Krygiakos and he showed the attacking instincts of a defender as he lashed wildly over the bar from six yards.
Half time substitute Guillermo Franco carried a much greater threat than Jose Mari and he had two chances to put the game beyond The Gers, but saw Waterreus pull off a tremendous stop to keep out his volley and then headed weakly at the Dutch keeper after ghosting between Krygiakos and Rodriguez.
Rangers' chances were few and far between in the second half, but Kris Boyd squandered a gilt-edged opening 15 minutes from time when totally missing his kick after being found superbly four yards out by Burke.
Hector Font could have clinched victory on the night for Villarreal deep into stoppage time, but he lashed wildly over the bar and it would have been harsh had The Gers conceded late on when chasing the game.
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Villarreal v Rangers
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|4||Shots on Target||2|
|2||Shots off Target||3|