Football: Rangers' chase runs out of steam

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The Independent Online
Rangers 1 IFK Gothenburg 1 Gothenburg win 4-1 on agg

Rangers were unable to redress the balance of a 3-0 first leg defeat in a disappointing night at Ibrox in which the Scottish champions failed to impose themselves sufficiently on the Swedes in their European Cup preliminary round second leg. Despite taking the lead midway through the first half, the early promise had evaporated long before the end.

The consolation of a Uefa Cup place will give little comfort after pounds 14m was spent over the summer in an effort to provide the European success that has proved so elusive over the last few years.

With Paul Gascoigne and Jonas Thern dictating in the midfield, Rangers created an early chance for Charlie Miller, who shot wide, but the midfielder found the net in the 23rd minute when he controlled an Ian Ferguson flick and shot low into the corner of the net.

The goal provided the platform for Rangers against a defence that was beginning to look shaky and although Gothenburg held out until half-time, there was a strong feeling that the tie was recoverable. The early action in the second half provided a pointer to subsequent events as Ally McCoist saw a shot charged down and Gascoigne eluded a couple of defenders but ran out of space.

Rangers' Champions League aspirations were struck a fatal blow in the 48th minute when Gothenburg gained the equaliser, which gave them an away goal and left Rangers the task of scoring four times in the final 48 minutes. The home defence failed to clear a corner allowing Robert Andersson the chance to score from six yards and the remainder of the game saw Rangers pass up several chances.

The inspirational Brian Laudrup was introduced and although his promptings provided a few openings, there was no further scoring.

Rangers (3-5-2): Goram; Moore, Porrini, Bjorklund; Miller (Albertz, 79), Thern, Ferguson (Laudrup, 54), Gascoigne, Stensas; McCoist (Durie, 64), Negri. Substitutes not used: Snelders (gk), Cleland, Vidmar, Gattuso.

IFK Gothenburg (4-4-2): Ravelli; Magnusson, Erlingmark, Lucic, Nilsson; Alexandersson, Pettersson, Lindqvist, Eriksson; A Andersson (Ekstrom, 84), R Andersson (Teteh, 73). Substitutes not used: Jarclov (gk), Henriksson, Johansson, Landberg, Martinsson.

Referee: B Heynemann (Ger).

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