MICHAEL MOLS scored two breathtaking goals for Rangers last night as the Scottish champions beat Haka of Finland with ease and moved a step closer to a place in this season's. European Champions' League.
Barring an upset of unimaginable proportions in the second leg of the second qualifying round next week, Rangers will meet Parma of Italy in the third and final qualifying round next month.
Rangers were already a goal ahead, courtesy of their Italian captain, Lorenzo Amoruso, when Mols intervened to all but secure his side's tie against the Serie A club. The Dutchman's first goal came on 28 minutes when he latched onto Neil McCann's pass on the corner of the box and rifled past the outstretched hand of Haka's goalkeeper, Andras Vilnrotter.
In his first competitive match for the Glasgow club, Mols doubled his tally four minutes before the break, taking down fellow debutant Dariusz Adamczuk's cross and despatching a close range shot past Vilnrotter.
Haka had already accepted their fate by the time Barry Nicholson tucked home from close range five minutes from time and barely a minute after his introduction.
The Rangers manager, Dick Advocaat, elected to give young Barry Ferguson the responsibility of a central midfield berth alongside Giovanni Van Bronckhorst. Ferguson's inclusion, one of only two Scots in the Rangers line-up, meant Jorg Albertz started the game on the bench.
Advocaat suggested before the game that he was more concerned about stopping Haka scoring than his own side creating opportunities and matched his words with actions by withdrawing Rod Wallace to a right-sided midfield role to counter the home side's 3-5-2 formation.
Jari Niemi's far-post header for Haka six minutes after the interval was a result of a lapse in concentration Rangers can ill-afford against the Italians, who must visit Ibrox for the first leg. Advocaat, however, will have been pleased with the way his side used both flanks in their attempts to inflict maximum damage on the current Finnish league leaders.
There is no doubting that Mols was the star of an impressive Rangers show against opposition who were not as weak as the scoreline suggests. The Dutchman will wonder, however, why he did not depart with the match ball. Three times he should have completed his hat-trick and on every occasion the ball found its way over the bar.
Mols spooned the first chance over after Claudio Reyna's cross went fractionally behind him. Vilnrotter pushed the second over after Ferguson's magnificent through-ball and the third, probably the easiest of the trio, saw the Dutchman thump a first-time volley too high after McCann had found him inside the six-yard box. An injury-time collision with Vilnrotter ended Mols' evening but the damage did not look too serious.
FC Haka: Vilnrotter, Penttila, Karjalainen, Rasanen, Ivanov, Hyokyvarra, Reynders, Popovitch, Savolienan, Wilson, Niemi. Substitutes: Toivonen, Nyyssonen, Rantala, Torkkeli, Pasanen, Okkonen.
Rangers: Klos, Adamczuk, Moore, Amoruso, Numan, Ferguson, Reyna, Van Bronckhorst, Mols, Wallace, McCann. Substitutes: Albertz, Niemi, Amato, Johansson, Vidmar, Nicholson, Wilson.
Referee: V Hrinak (Slovakia).Reuse content