Football: Rangers have to pay price for their lack of passion

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The Independent Online
Rangers 1 RC Strasbourg 2

(Strasbourg win 4-2 on aggregate)

Rangers suffered another night of humiliation in Europe at Ibrox last night, beaten by two rapier thrusts from the French side who although competent are not of the highest quality.

Once again defensive failings brought about the fall of the Scottish champions, who have now conceded seven goals in the last three home games. More worrying for Walter Smith, the manager, was the lack of passion shown by his players, whose meek acceptance of defeat angered the supporters.

The midfield proved ineffectual with Stuart McCall, Paul Gascoigne and Rino Gattuso failing to blend and too often competing for the same ball.

It all began so promisingly. Brian Laudrup, recovered from a weekend injury, moved down the right before finding Gattuso who opened the scoring with an diagonal shot.

The goal served only to double the resolve of the visitors, who created a couple of chances before they equalised in the 36th minute.

Stale Stensaas failed to control a ball at the back post, before allowing Gerald Baticle the chance to control and then sweep his shot into the net.

Worse was to come for Rangers, four minutes after the interval, when David Zitelli slid in to touch home a cross from Stephane Collet to give the French a 2-1 lead on the night and leave Rangers requiring three goals to progress.

Christophe Kinet was shown a red card for a second caution after he had pulled down Gascoigne, but Rangers failed to produce the kind of passion the crowd would have wanted in such a situation, and although a Laudrup shot was well saved, they lacked conviction.

Rangers (4-4-2): Goram: Cleland, Porrini, Bjorklund (Miller, 69), Stensaas; Durie (Johansson, 77), McCall, Gascoigne, Gattuso; Negri, Laudrup (Andersen, 64). Substitutes not used: Petric, B Ferguson, Graham, Snelders (gk).

RC Strasbourg (3-5-2): Vencel; Raschke, Suchoparek, Okpara; Collet (Keller, 89), Baticle, Dacourt, Zitelli (Miceli, 17), M'Ghoghi; Kinet, Conteh (Roth, 61). Substitutes not used: Klein, Avril, Meiricat.

Referee: F Stuchlik (Austria).