Football: Durie injury ruins night for Wallace

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The Independent Online
ROD WALLACE yesterday admitted a serious injury to fellow striker Gordon Durie had taken the shine off a polished Uefa Cup win over PAOK Salonika on Tuesday night.

Durie was carried off with a suspected broken ankle after just four minutes following a crude challenge from Trianta-filos Macheridis.

Durie will know by the end of this week whether his damaged ankle is broken. Swelling around the ankle means that tests made yesterday were inconclusive regarding the full extent of the problem which could yet force him out for more than two months.

A Rangers spokesman said yesterday: "He has been to see a specialist and his left ankle is in plaster. On Friday Gordon will return for further tests when it will be established whether there is a break, which is not known yet."

The Greeks' debutant midfielder Mahairidis grounded Durie with a late challenge by the touchline that earned the visiting player the first of two swift bookings.

Durie was replaced by the Argentinian striker Gabriel Amato after just six minutes of the game. Two minutes later Mahairidis joined him on the sidelines after receiving a second yellow card, this time for dissent. Rangers manager Dick Advocaat described the tackle a "bad one" and fears that Durie will "be out for a long time".

As well as a blow to Rangers, that would also have a negative impact for his country as Scotland start their Euro 2000 campaign. Durie now looks a major doubt for the opening qualifier in Lithuania on Saturday, September 5.

Rangers took time to adapt to the advantage of the extra man, but second- half goals from Andrei Kanchelskis and Wallace made for a stylish triumph.

It was a first goal in European competition for former Leeds striker Wallace, but he conceded that Durie's misfortune tempered the joy felt at his 20-yard curled effort. He said: "I am happy to take the responsibility up front, but it is sad for Gordon what has happened.

"We are all professionals and will get on with it. I didn't see what happened but I know it was a bad tackle because some of the boys were saying so at half-time. All the lads are upset about Gordon, especially if it does prove to be a broken ankle, but we have to be professional and carry on."

That means taking the two-goal advantage to PAOK's hostile home, the Toumbas Stadium, but Wallace is optimistic Rangers will travel with confidence. He added: "I am more than happy with my goal and I feel we have a good cushion. Hopefully we can go over there and get a result. We had a couple of chances to have scored more than two."

Advocaat pronounced himself well satisfied with the win. He added: "It will be a hot evening in a fortnight's time, but they know they will have to score three goals.

"I am confident we can manage an away goal, we have players up front, even without Gordon, who can do that for us. I think we can do what we have to do over there, and I still feel we can go on and play even better."

The PAOK manager, Oleg Blochin, expressed doubts that Rangers were good enough to impress against his side insisting: "They will not go all the way in this competition."

The Russian manager of the Greek club believes his side will be better equipped for the second leg and felt that playing for 82 minutes with only 10 men made Tuesday's result inevitable.

He said: "I think we will play better at home because we feel much more at ease with 40,000 spectators behind us. I felt my players fought very well for so long with ten men and I don't want to blame them. I have no confidence in Rangers' future prospects. They should remember he who laughs last laughs longest."

Tomas Brolin, 28, yesterday announced he has retired. He was Sweden's No 1 player in the 1994 World Cup in the United States, where they finished third.

Brolin broke his leg playing for his country and on his return could not keep his team place at Italy's Parma. He moved to Leeds without success and spent the second half of last season at Crystal Palace.