Rangers 0 Panathinaikos 0: Rangers grounded as Novo misfires
Thursday 14 February 2008
Rangers' hopes of progressing to the last 16 of the Uefa Cup were dented last night after they were held to a frustrating goalless draw by Panathinaikos at Ibrox.
Even the late introduction of Daniel Cousin failed to break down the stubborn resistance of the Greek defence. Rangers now face a daunting trip to Athens for the second leg next week knowing they will probably have to score to keep their European hopes alive.
Walter Smith persisted with the 4-5-1 formation which he had favoured in Champions League matches against Stuttgart, Barcelona and Lyons but, this time, Lee McCulloch was given the nod in the lone striker role. The biggest cheer when the teams were read out was reserved for the home fans' favourite, Nacho Novo, who earned his first start since early November.
The Spaniard was clearly up for the challenge, pouncing on McCulloch's header within a few minutes of kick-off only to send a left-footed drive straight at goalkeeper Mario Galinovic.
A blunder from Giannis Goumas almost gifted Rangers the opener when he tried to knock Barry Ferguson's header back to the goalkeeper. The pass was poor and he also failed to hold off Novo, who could have claimed his seventh goal of the season had it not been for a frantic clearance.
Novo then collected a long ball from Brahim Hemdani and powered his way into the box only to fire off the legs of the goalkeeper.
The home fans screamed for a penalty after the break when Novo fell after a push from Loukas Vyntra but their pleas were ignored by the Italian referee.
The Ibrox crowd were growing restless and, with 20 minutes to go, Cousin was thrown into the action in place of Charlie Adam. To no avail: Rangers will have to try their luck in Athens
Rangers (4-5-1): McGregor; Broadfoot, Cuellar, Weir, Papac; McCulloch, Ferguson, Davis, Hemdani, Novo (Burke, 81); Adam (Cousin, 67). Substitutes not used: Alexander, Boyd, Burke, Dailly, Naismith, Faye.
Panathinaikos (4-4-2): Galinovic; Nilsson, Morris, Goumas, Vyntra; Ndoye, Tziolis, Mattos, Simao; Karagounis, Salpigidis (Postiga, 66). Substitutes not used: Malarz, Ninis, Gonzalez, Papadopoulos, Seric, Ivanschitz.
Referee: N Rizzoli (Italy).
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
Latest in Sport
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Best memes and Tweets, including Lukas Podolski selfie with Angela Merkel
Germany 1 Argentina 0 player ratings
Shakira performs at World Cup closing ceremony at the Maracana
World Cup 2014 final: Vladimir Putin takes seat next to Sepp Blatter at the Maracana
World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi suffers humiliation of walking past World Cup trophy TWICE after being crowned player of the tournament with Golden Ball
- 2 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 5 Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
Emergency data law: David Cameron plots to bring back snoopers’ charter
NUT strike: David Cameron announces crackdown on strike action ahead of mass industrial action