Rangers refuse to blame Darcheville for traumatic exit

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The Independent Online

Jean-Claude Darcheville said Rangers' elimination from the Champions League was his fault. He missed a sitter that would have levelled Wednesday's match at Ibrox with Lyons at 1-1 with fewer than 10 minutes to go. Rangers needed a point to reach the knock-out stages but 19-year-old Karim Benzema, who has already scored three goals for France in eight appearances since his debut in March, hit two more for the visitors and it was all over. Darcheville then got a red card for stupid petulance late on.

Yet his team-mates rallied round yesterday to insist he was not to blame. "I was right behind him and thought he had to score [from his chance]," said the experienced David Weir. "It's not a time for singling out individuals. It's a time for the team to get round each other and move on." That too is true, and most important.

The Rangers manager, Walter Smith, said late on Wednesday that the Uefa Cup is no consolation, but come next year and some considered reflection that the competition offers a more realistic hope of sustained progress in Europe it will be.

Rangers punched above their weight to take seven points from their opening three Group E games. While there was an element of improbability about their early successes, calling them "flukes" would be cruel. Rather they played to their strengths (defence) and rode their luck going forward. On Wednesday they were porous at the back (goalkeeper Allan McGregor will not relish replays), cut apart by pace and skill from Benzema, Sidney Govou and Juninho in particular, and profligate.

Lyons cannot meet many, if any opponents as poor in the last 16 where Chelsea and Manchester United are possible draws but if they play like this, they could still be dangerous.

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