Auxerre 2 Rangers 2: Le Guen hails team spirit as Rangers make the last 32

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The Independent Football

Rangers last night became the first club to advance to the third round of the Uefa Cup with a 2-2 draw here against Auxerre.

Ireneusz Jelen scored for Auxerre in the 31st minute but Nacho Novo equalised in the 62nd minute. Daniel Niculae put the French club ahead again after 75 minutes, only for Kris Boyd to level matters again late on.

The Rangers manager, Paul Le Guen, hailed his players' "great spirit" after they moved into the last 32.

Le Guen said: "Auxerre are a good team with great players but we responded well and never gave up. I feel there is a real spirit in the team. I feel we are improving and it's a great feeling. We can get through this difficult period. It's great they are able to fight on the pitch for Rangers."

Both sides defended poorly at times and Le Guen added: "The pitch was so difficult. It's difficult to play a perfect game."

The Rangers captain, Barry Ferguson, said he was "delighted [but] again we made it hard for ourselves".

Ferguson added: "Defensively we were very sloppy at set-pieces. It's disappointing but we have got to sort it out. We are through so we are happy, that was our main aim. It's a difficult group with some decent teams in it. We are happy to get past the Christmas stage and hopefully we can get through to the last 16."

Auxerre (4-4-2): Cool; Jaures, Kalabane, Kaboul, Sagna; Pedretti (Niculae, 75), Cheyrou, Akale, Thomas; Pieroni, Jelen (Ba, 80). Substitutes not used: Sauvage (gk), Martin, Vadocz, Traoré, Lejeune.

Rangers (4-3-3): McGregor; Svensson, Hutton, Smith (Rodriguez, 20), Adam; Ferguson, Hemdani , Clement; Prso (Sionko, 67), Novo (Sebo, 81), Boyd. Substitutes not used: Letizi (gk), Rae, Buffel, N'Diaye.

Referee: J Eriksson (Sweden).