Football: Champions League - Rangers go out to Strunz's penalty

Bayern Munich 1 Rangers 0
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The Independent Online
THE BRAVEHEARTS from many lands wore the colours of Rangers with pride and distinction but no luck whatever last night and were cruelly deprived of a place in the second stage of the Champions' League.

Recovering from a nervous start, they struck the bar and posts three times either side of conceding a harsh penalty, which enabled Bayern to avoid the embarrassment of elimination six months after having the trophy snatched away from them in comic-book fashion by Manchester United.

The Germans probably believe they were due the good fortune that deserted them in the last minute of the final in Barcelona. They did little to deserve it last night, frequently drawing whistles of derision from those among the 56,000 crowd who had not travelled to the Olympic Stadium clutching union flags and crates of liquid refreshment.

The Rangers coach, Dick Advocaat, offered a fair summing up when he said: "In the first 15 minutes we had some problems defensively but after that we controlled the game. It was a very cheap penalty. You need a little bit of luck from the referee as well."

Advocaat was also honest enough to admit that defeat in the previous game, at home to Valencia, had seriously undermined his team's unexpectedly strong challenge in a group that they started as fourth favourites. As with Arsenal, gaining a place in a notably strong Uefa Cup field will not seem much consolation for now.

Rangers derived great strength from the performance of two former Bundesliga players, the American Claudio Reyna and Jorg Albertz, in the wide midfield positions. While Reyna often came inside to lead a thrust to the heart of Bayern's shaky defence, Albertz frequently forced his way to the by- line, before delivering dangerous crosses. Only at the start and finish of the game did another visiting German, the goalkeeper Stefan Klos, need to excel. He made an important save with his leg from the Paraguayan teenager Roque Santa Cruz in the fourth minute and then did just enough to put off Bayern's other South American striker, Giovane Elber.

Slowly Rangers recovered their poise and in the 25th minute Giovanni van Bronckhorst went down the left and Michael Mols headed against a post. Seven minutes later, their defence was opened up by Elber and Stefan Effenberg and Mehmet Scholl was awarded a penalty for running across Van Bronckhorst and falling over. Klos got his right hand to Thomas Strunz's spot-kick but could not keep it out.

Eight minutes before the interval, Albertz pulled the ball back for Rod Wallace, whose fierce shot was brilliantly diverted on to the underside of the bar by Oliver Kahn.

The change of ends did not bring a change of luck. Jonatan Johansson, who had replaced the injured Mols - the Dutchman may be out for some months - escaped down the right and his cross fell for Van Bronckhorst, whose left-footed shot from 25 yards also struck a post. Then Wallace wriggled through and slid the ball past Kahn, only for Thomas Linke to clear off the line. So the Scottish champions, in their 40th season of European competition, are back in the Uefa Cup.

So, in the end, there were missed opportunities as well as misfortune, but still plenty of reasons for the 7,000 Rangers followers to raise their glasses as they continued to create a tired and emotional Munich Bierfest of their own.

Bayern Munich: (3-4-1-2) Kahn; Babbel, Matthaus, Linke; Strunz, Effenberg (Tarnat, 74), Fink, Lizarazu; Scholl (Salihamidzic, 65); Elber, Santa Cruz (Paulo Sergio, 65). Substitutes not used: Wessels (gk), Andersson, Jancker, Zickler.

Rangers: (4-4-2) Klos; Porrini, Moore, Amoruso, Numan (McCann, 71); Reyna, Van Bronckhorst, B Ferguson, Albertz; Mols (Johansson, 30), Wallace (Amato, 80). Substitutes not used: Charbonnier (gk), Kanchelskis, Vidmar, Adamczuk.

Referee: V Melo Pereira (Portugal).

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