Football: Rangers 2 Parma 0 - Parma punished by Rangers

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RANGERS were in blue heaven at Ibrox last night. In two weeks' time, they might be in the Champions League's elite group stages.

Goals from Tony Vidmar and Claudio Reyna last night gave the Scottish champions revenge over the Serie A side for knocking them out of Europe last season, but more important is the lead that Dick Advocaat's team have been handed for the second leg of this third round qualifying tie in Italy in a fortnight's time.

If Rangers and the 50,000 fans who packed Ibrox thought that they deserved to be among Europe's elite, looking in the mirror at Parma must have been a cold shower of reality.

The Italians, who won the Uefa Cup last season, had spent an estimated pounds 60m during the summer reshaping their side. Even though their record signing, the Brazilian forward Amoroso who cost pounds 22m from Udinese, was not in Glasgow, Parma could still turn to an impressive deputy to lead their attack in the shape of Ariel Ortega, a pounds 13m purchase from Sampdoria.

Parma's reputation as the meanest defence in Italy last season did not look without merit. The central defenders, Fabio Cannavaro and Lilian Thuram, shadowed Rod Wallace and Michael Mols everywhere. But while the French World Cup defender carried out his task legitimately, Cannavaro was living on borrowed time.

He was booked in the 15th minute for taking down Wallace from behind, which made his trip on the same man nine minutes later an act of sheer folly. The Spanish referee had no hesitation in bringing out the red card and Parma were left to play for over an hour with 10 men.

Soon Rangers would punish Cannavaro's indiscipline even further as they suddenly found space to run at Parma's defence. Reyna went close with a left-foot shot which Gianluigi Buffon closed down before Vidmar scored in the 32nd minute.

The Australian left-back made a clever run and McCann sent him a sublime pass. Vidmar cut inside his opposite number, Luigi Sartor, and crashed a right-footer high past Buffon from 14 yards.

Paolo Vannoli, the Parma midfielder, went close in the 61st minute after rounding Moore, but Stefan Klos, the Rangers goalkeeper, parried his drive. Vannoli was soon cautioned for a bad tackle on Barry Ferguson and was then joined in the book by Jorg Albertz, who had come on as a substitute for Vidmar.

In the 76th minute Reyna put Rangers 2-0 ahead. The little American's run was timed to perfection to meet McCann's knockdown from Wallace's cross and he thumped the ball beyond Buffon.

Rangers (4-4-2): Klos; Porrini, Moore, Amoruso, Vidmar (Albertz, 55); Reyna, Ferguson, van Bronckhorst, McCann; Wallace, Mols. Substitutes not used: Niemi, Amato, Adamczuk, Wilson, Johansson, McInnes.

Parma (3-5-2): Buffon; Sartor, Thuram, Cannavaro; Serena, Boghossian, Walem, Baggio (Fuser, 60), Vannoli; Ortega (Torrisi, 37), Di Vaio (Stanic, 85). Substitutes not used: Micillo, Benarrivo, Breda, Montano.

Referee: J-M Garcia-Aranda (Spain).