Football: Nisbet strikes lucky for Rangers

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The Independent Online
Rangers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Club Bruges. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

RANGERS kept their European Cup ambitions alive last night with a dramatic victory over the Belgian champions, Club Bruges, in front of more than 42,000 at Ibrox Park. This narrow win was achieved against a background of crippling injuries and the loss of Mark Hateley, their English striker, who was sent off for a moment's folly seconds before the interval.

The Scottish champions' performance was not the best of their 44-game unbeaten run, but they again demonstrated their fighting qualities and will not be without hope when they travel to Marseille for the match which should decide the outcome of Group A in the European Champions' League. Hateley's dismissal, though, means he will miss the game against Marseille, who last night underlined their status as group favourites with a 6-0 home win over CSKA Moscow.

Rangers' winning goal, scored after 70 minutes by their right-back Scott Nisbet, produced a cacophony of delight on a deeply passionate night on which Trevor Steven, Andy Goram and Richard Gough all returned from injury to give the home team a more recognisable look.

On a heavy pitch saturated by an afternoon's rain, their inclusion was a calculated risk. But, without the speed of David Robertson in defence, Rangers' pre-match worries centred on the explosive pace of Daniel Amokachi, the Nigerian attacker who quickly created two chances.

After early difficulties as Gough, looking less than fully fit, struggled to settle, the Scottish champions eventually took control and scored their opening goal five minutes from the interval. Steven collected a loose ball on the right and sent a measured diagonal pass into the penalty area which was hit on the run into the bottom corner by Ian Durrant.

Rangers' joy was dampened by the loss of Hateley after an astonishing indiscretion. He had crossed swords with Rudi Cossey throughout the first half and when he shoved his opponent to the ground in retaliation the Polish referee produced a red card.

Rangers suffered two further blows after the restart. McCoist, now a lone raider, fell in the area under a strong challenge by Laszlo Disztl and was denied a penalty. Seconds later Club Bruges scored an equaliser, neat interplay on the edge of the area opening the way for Lorenzo Staelens to strike an angled shot past Goram.

Rangers' winner was another example of their luck throughout this campaign with Nisbet swinging wildly at a loose ball which took a deflection and sailed over Danny Verlinden in the Bruges goal.

Rangers: Goram; Nisbet, Murray, Gough, McPherson, Brown, Steven, McCall, McCoist, Hateley, Durrant (Presley, 86).

Club Bruges: Verlinden; Disztl, Van der Elst, Verheyen, Borkelmans, Van der Heyden, Creve, Cossey, Staelens, Schaessens (Dziubinski, 76), Amokachi.

Referee: R Wojoik (Poland).

(Photograph omitted)