Football / Scottish Round-Up: Rangers' big week

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RANGERS lead the Premier Division with two games played, but their thoughts are firmly fixed on the European arena, writes David McKinney. Defeat on Wednesday against AEK Athens would see them sitting on top of a precarious house of cards.

Scotland's reputation in European football is at is lowest level for many years, with three clubs being forced to compete in preliminary rounds of whom only one, Motherwell, managed a win from the first leg.

There is a genuine fear that, unless the situation is reversed, the winners of the Scottish League will be

excluded from the Champions' Cup and have to settle for a place in the Uefa Cup.

Rangers will need to produce a powerful performance at Ibrox on Wednesday to overcome a 2-0 deficit and avoid a repeat of last season's early exit from the European Cup. At Firhill on Saturday, Brian Laudrup again impressed with his close control. The Dane, with a fine cross, also made the second goal for Mark Hateley in a 2-0 win over Partick.

Aberdeen and Motherwell failed to win before their European matches. The Dons drew 1-1 at home to Falkirk while Motherwell needed a penalty to earn a point in a 1-1 draw with Hearts. Celtic opened their year-long tenancy of Hampden with a last- minute goal from Tony Mowbray giving them a 2-1 win over Dundee United.