Rangers have a lot to do if they are to reach the promised land of the Champions' League. Despite having the better of the first half, they ended up well beaten by IFK Gothenburg in last night's European Cup preliminary round first leg match at the Ullevi Stadium.
Despite the absence of their inspirational captain Brian Laudrup, who has chicken pox, the Scottish champions took the game to the home side and carved out a number of good chances. Jorg Albertz cut through the Gothenburg defence after nine minutes only to steer his shot wide, then Gordon Durie shot just wide after Stale Stensas had set him up with a fine cross.
Rangers continued to make the running in the early stages and Thomas Ravelli was forced to race from his goal and head the ball clear, losing his cap in the process as Jonas Thern tried to find Marco Negri.
Rangers continued to dominate and must have gone in at half-time in good spirits after obtaining plenty of possession. Durie was left holding his head in disbelief when he missed a glorious chance, sending his close- range shot wide when it would have been easier to square the ball to Negri in the middle.
Gothenburg were beginning to look uncomfortable under the weight of Rangers' attacks and they hastily cleared the ball for a corner after Tony Vidmar had picked out Alex Cleland.
Cleland was booked for tripping Robert Andersson, and then Rangers were almost caught napping two minutes before the break when Stefan Pettersson broke clear, only to hook his shot over.
That was a warning for what was to follow in the second half, when Rangers were hit by two goals from the Swedish champions in the space of three minutes. The veteran Pettersson put Gothenburg ahead after 55 minutes, with the visitors guilty of some shoddy defending. Robert Andersson played the ball back to Pettersson and he rattled in a shot that thundered past Andy Goram, the Rangers goalkeeper.
Rangers were still getting their thoughts together when the Swedes added a second in the 58th minute. Goram made a valiant attempt to prevent Par Karlsson's shot going over the line from an acute angle, but the referee, Vitor Pereira, ruled that the goal should stand.
Rangers were still reeling from that double blow when they could have gone 3-0 behind on the hour. Goram spilled a shot from Alexandersson and the ball appeared to trickle over the line - but luckily for Rangers the referee ruled in their favour. The worried visiting manager, Walter Smith, made a double substitution after 68 minutes, bringing off Negri and Albertz and replacing them with Ally McCoist and Ian Ferguson.
Gothenburg were buoyant after going two goals ahead and again almost grabbed a third when Karlsson found himself clear in the area, only to knock his shot over the top. The third goal arrived two minutes from the end, though, when Peter Eriksson, a substitute, completed the scoring.
IFK Gothenburg: Ravelli; Johansson, Erlingmark, Lucic, Magnusson, Alexandersson, Pettersson, Lindqvist, Karlsson, R Andersson, A Andersson. Substitutes: Jarelov, Henriksson, Eriksson, Martinsson, Tetteh, Ekstrom, Svensson.
Rangers: Goram; Cleland, Stensas, Porrini, Bjorklund, Thern, Gascoigne, Negri, Albertz, Durie, Vidmar. Substitutes: Snelders, Ferguson, McCoist, Moore, Miller, Gattuso, Andersen.
Referee: V Pereira (Portugal).Reuse content