Brilliant Goram cannot prevent Rangers' exit

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The Independent Online
DAVID MCKINNEY

Rangers 1 Steaua Bucharest 1

Events elsewhere decreed that Rangers' efforts last night were worthless in terms of qualifying for the latter stages of the European Cup. The Scottish champions were unable to conjure a winner for themselves, while at the same time they were indebted to their goalkeeper, Andy Goram, for a series of spectacular saves.

Ultimately, however, Rangers have so far been unable to prise a victory from the toughest Champions' League group and have been eliminated after Borussia Dortmund's astonishing win in Turin last night, which rendered the meeting of the German and Scottish champions a meaningless exercise.

The Romanians, as aware of the need for victory as Rangers, set out to attack from the start, forcing Goram into action on three occasions within the first 12 minutes. He came off his line to deny Bucurel Ilie, then produced a fine save from Daniel Prodan, who wheeled and shot from a Marius Lacatus free-kick. Goram's third involvement was to push away an angled drive from Damian Militaru.

Rangers, inevitably stung by the visitors' audacity, looked to the mercurial skills of Brian Laudrup to provide an opening, yet when the Dane freed David Robertson on the left, the full-back's cross lacked conviction and then a deep ball from Laudrup found no takers.

Both sides demonstrated more of a willingness to attack than they had when they last met in September, and in scoring in the 32nd minute Rangers received a maximum return from their big-money men, Laudrup and Paul Gascoigne. The opening goal was a classic Gazza moment. He accepted a pass from Laudrup five yards inside the Romanian half, spotted a gap through the middle of the defence and attacked with a vengeance, finishing with a low shot past the goalkeeper.

Two minutes later, Rangers were unlucky not to extend their lead when the Romanian goalkeeper, Bogdan Stelea, saved from Robertson at close range, then got up to push away a curled shot from the full-back. From the resultant corner, Gordan Petric saw his header swept off the line.

Ally McCoist was denied the chance of becoming Rangers' top scorer in European competition by a flying save from the goalkeeper within a minute of the restart. Scarcely had Rangers recovered from that than they found themselves on level terms. Ilie broke through the defence, showing a wonderful turn of pace before flicking the ball past Goram and into the net off his left-hand post. Goram then produced a breathtaking save three minutes later to deny Militaru.

Rangers (3-5-2): Goram; Gough, Brown (Bollan, 75), Petric; McLaren, Durrant (Miller, h-t), Gascoigne, McCall (Murray, 86), Robertson; McCoist, Laudrup.

Steaua Bucharest (4-4-2): Stelea; Filipescu, Csik, Dobos, Prodan; Militaru (Rosu, 90), Bucur, Ilie (Nagy, 75), Pirvu; Lacatus (Raducan, 87), Vladiou.

Referee: N Legnikov (Russia).

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