RANGERS' DREAMS of Uefa Cup glory died in the space of 20 minutes yesterday at the Tardini Stadium. The Scottish Premier League leaders conceded three goals in that spell after being reduced to 10 men in this third round, second-leg match.
The defender Sergio Porrini was sent off at the end of the first half by the Norwegian referee Gerge Hauge for his second bookable offence, both yellow cards the result of challenges on Juan Veron.
The Rangers manager, Dick Advocaat, was furious at the decision. "There was no reason to give that second yellow card to Porrini and it changed the face of the game," Advocaat said. "It made it very difficult to match Parma in the second half."
The Scots had been in the driving seat before Porrini's dismissal, with Jorg Albertz putting them 2-1 ahead on aggregate in the 29th minute. But they were left with a daunting task against a team of Parma's quality. The Italians have not lost in Europe for the past five years and are currently flying high in Serie A.
Abel Balbo pulled them level two minutes after the break but worse was to follow for Rangers. The substitute Stefano Fiore put Parma ahead in the 63rd minute and Enrico Chiesa sealed a place in the quarter-finals by scoring from the spot four minutes later.
Advocaat sprang a surprise before the game by omitting Andrei Kanchelskis. The Russian winger was expected to play a key role but instead Albertz retained his place. Gordon Durie was recalled to the front line with Jonatan Johansson suffering from a hamstring injury while Stephane Guivarc'h was ineligible.
But Rangers were forced on the back foot in the first half with Balbo squandering a good chance of giving Parma the lead in the sixth minute. Fabio Cannavaro played a long ball in from the right and Chiesa flicked it on only for Balbo to steer it wide of the post.
Rangers gave Chiesa too much room and the Finnish goalkeeper Antti Niemi twice had to scramble the ball away from the striker's feet.
Yet Rangers shocked their opponents by taking the lead against the run of play in the 29th minute when Roberto Sensini carelessly lost possession to Albertz. The German midfielder took the ball on and delivered a stunning strike into the corner to put Rangers 1-0 up on the day and 2-1 ahead on aggregate.
But the turning point came just before the break, with Porrini picking up his first yellow card in the 44th minute with a lunge on Veron. Then came his dismissal a minute later, leaving Rangers with an uphill task to qualify.
"We showed in the first half we can compete at their level and both sides played a lot of good football," Advocaat said. "Amoruso had a good game and there was no reason for him to use his hands and give away the penalty. But don't put the blame on Amoruso and Porrini. What happened to them is part of the game."
Parma pulled level two minutes after the break when Balbo knocked the ball in after Chiesa had flicked on a cross from Veron. The home side then stepped up the pace and Veron started to do some serious damage. His free-kick was blocked by Albertz but only landed at the feet of Fiore 25 yards out. He did not hesitate to shoot the ball beyond Niemi.
Rangers continued to battle away but their fate was sealed in the 67th minute when Amoruso handled a long ball from Veron and referee Hauge had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Chiesa swept home the penalty kick.
Parma: Buffon, Thuram, Sensini, Cannavaro, Fuser (Mussi, 84), Baggio, Boghossain (Fiore 56), Bennarivo, Veron, Balbo, Chiesa (Crespo, 74). Substitutes not used: Nista (gk), Vanoli, Orlandini, Giunti.
Rangers: Niemi, Porrini, Hendry, Amoruso, Numan, Albertz, B. Ferguson (Miller, 81), I Ferguson, Van Bronckhorst, Wallace (Amato 73), Durie (Vidmar, 54). Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), Stensaas, Wilson, Kanchelskis.
Referee: T Hauge (Norway).
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