Battling Gers hold Barca
A great defensive display from Rangers saw them claim a fully deserved 0-0 draw with Barcelona at Ibrox.
By Graeme Bailey
Last Updated: 24/10/07 5:57am
A great defensive display from Rangers saw them claim a fully deserved 0-0 draw with Barcelona and maintain their unbeaten status in the UEFA Champions League Group E.
The Spanish giants dominated the opening 45 minutes but could not find a way through.
The visitors came close midway through the half when Ronaldinho saw his thunderous free-kick tipped over by Rangers keeper Allan McGregor.
After the break, Barca failed to create any great chances, and indeed Rangers could have sealed a famous late victory through Daniel Cousin - but he fired wide from six yards.
Manager Walter Smith named the same side who defeated Celtic at the weekend, with Nacho Novo dropping back to midfield and Cousin once again taking on the lone striker role he performed so well in Lyon.
Barca were without the creative skills of Deco, who limped out of their defeat at Villarreal at the weekend.
Ronaldinho was restored to the starting line-up - he missed the 3-1 reverse at Villarreal after returning late from international duty - allowing Barcelona to opt for a formidable three-pronged attack in the shape of the Brazilian, Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi.
The first real chance of the match fell to Rangers when Cousin was fouled by Lilian Thuram a few yards in front of the corner flag.
Barry Ferguson presided over the resultant free-kick but his effort was comfortably collected by goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
At the other end, Henry won a corner for the visitors which was swung into the box by Xabi. Eidur Gudjohnsen rose above everyone else to nod just over the crossbar.
The home side were forced into last-gasp defending when Carlos Cuellar hooked a Messi effort off the line.
Rangers were then under pressure again when Ronaldinho was hacked down by Alan Hutton 25 yards out. The Brazilian took the free-kick himself but was denied by McGregor and the woodwork.
Ronaldinho then turned provider, picking out Carles Puyol with a long ball on the right flank, but the Barca skipper was denied the opener when his header was tipped over again by McGregor.
Neither team made any changes at the interval and Barcelona surged forward in numbers in search of the opener and were displaying some wonderful passing football.
However, McGregor was far from troubled by a poor long range effort from Xavi, who blasted well over the crossbar from 35 yards.
Henry should have opened the scoring for the La Liga side when he connected with a Xavi corner but somehow managed to nod over from close range.
Sighs of relief from the Ibrox crowd were then replaced by groans of despair as Novo and Ferguson both narrowly failed to connect with a Cousin cross, as the ball fizzed across goal and wide.
Cousin then hooked agonisingly wide as Rangers tried to snatch the winner.
In the end, both teams were forced to settle for the draw - which gives them both seven points in the group, as the match ended without any goals but far from lacking in entertainment.
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|0||Shots on Target||2|
|2||Shots off Target||9|