Last night the Ibrox faithful saw goals from Rod Wallace, Jonatan Johansson and Gabriel Amato stretch their advantage over Finland's Haka to a 7-1 aggregate victory in this second qualifying round tie. The third qualifying round encounter with the Italians will carry a multi-million pound passport to the competition's lucrative group stage.
Rangers had little reason to be coy after their 4-1 victory in the first leg a week ago and the return of Michael Mols, the pounds 4m summer signing who scored two of the goals in Finland, merely added to their strength. Yet when they stretched their aggregate lead even further, in the 14th minute, it was not the Dutch international striker who did the damage. That honour went to the ever-impressive Wallace, who is eager to match his 27 goals from last season.
The former Leeds player's hunger was underlined by the fact that he stole the ball off Barry Ferguson's foot as the midfielder was poised to finish off a majestic 70-yard passing move. Ferguson tried his luck again just minutes later, but this time Andras Vilnrotter's fine one-handed save denied him.
Slackness then crept into Rangers play and they were lucky not to be punished for a sloppy mistake by Lorenzo Amoruso in the 22nd minute. The Italian defender gave the ball away but was fortunate that the Haka midfielder Jari Niemi dragged his effort wide.
Rangers' own Finn, Jonatan Johansson, was not in such profligate mood and he made it 2-0 on the night in the 28th minute when he rose to head in at the back post after Craig Moore had flicked on Giovanni van Bronckhorst's corner.
Haka were unlucky not to reduce the deficit in the 51st minute when Oleg Ivanov crashed a 25-yard shot off the post with Stefan Klos beaten. Gabriel Amato, who had replaced Mols at half-time, seemed certain to score in the 56th minute after a fine cross by his fellow substitute, Tony Vidmar, but he failed to show the killer instinct and allowed Jarkko Okkonen to chase back and clear the ball off the line. Then Vilnrotter, with impressive close-range reactions, kept out Amato's impressive volley from Wallace's knock-down.
Amato, however, finally got his goal in the 67th minute. Dariusz Adamczuk broke down the right wing and picked out the Argentinian forward with a fine cross and Amato's header gave Vilnrotter no chance of a repeat performance.
Rangers (3-4-3): Klos; Moore, Amoruso, Numan (Vidmar, 40); Adamczuk, Ferguson (Nicholson, 71), Van Bronckhorst, Albertz; Johansson, Mols (Amato, h-t), Wallace. Substitutes not used: A Niemi (gk), S Wilson.
Haka (4-4-2) Vilnrotter; Okkonen, Karjalainen, Pentilla, Rasanen (Savolienan, 61); Reynders, Ivanov (Nyyssonen, 52), D Wilson, J Niemi (Torkkeli, 71); Rantala, Popovitch. Substitutes not used: Toivonen (gk), Salli, Pasanen.
Referee: L Pucek (Poland).Reuse content