Rangers still have all to play for, says Whittaker

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The Independent Football

Steven Whittaker insists Rangers can resurrect their ailing Champions League campaign by causing an upset against Manchester United at Ibrox later this month. The Scottish champions were on course to progress to the last 16 along with the Premier League club before Valencia put a massive dent in their hopes.

The Spaniards headed into Tuesday night's crucial fixture trailing Rangers by a point but a 3-0 win at the Mestalla allowed them to overtake Walter Smith's men and move into second spot behind United.

Rangers claimed a point in their Group C opener at Old Trafford, after their ultra-defensive display saw the match end in a goalless stalemate, and Whittaker insists they should not be written off when the clubs meet again.

The Rangers defender said: "The Valencia game was a setback and we are sitting third at the moment but there are still two games to go and there are still six points available. We will see where those games take us. We will try to take something from Manchester United and then Bursaspor in the last game.

"We managed to go to Old Trafford and get a point so we will try to frustrate them again at Ibrox. We know it will be a great atmosphere and a great game to play in and, hopefully, we can take something from it."

Despite the defeat in Spain, Whittaker is not yet willing to contemplate the consolation prize of a place in the Europa League after United's win over Bursaspor left the Turks without a single point and with very little hope of catching Rangers for third place.

He said: "That result helps us to hang on to third at least but there are two games to go so we will wait and see what happens first. Third is a great possibility for us but we are still looking to finish second in the group."

Two goals from Roberto Soldado and a last-minute strike from substitute Tino Costa sealed the victory for Valencia. Steven Naismith did hit the woodwork for Rangers when the match was still deadlocked early on but Whittaker admits they let their standards slip on the night.

"We just didn't get going," he said. "We had a couple of efforts but our all-round play wasn't as good as it has been in this competition and the boys are a bit deflated. It's disappointing because we came here with high hopes of taking something out of the game but it wasn't to be. Steven Naismith had a good effort early in the game, it hit the post, and if we had got ourselves in front it would have given us something to hold on to but it wasn't our night."

Naismith himself insisted Rangers were still focused on second. "We still want to push for that place," he said. "We have come so far between last season and this season in the Champions League and we want to push on and stay in the competition."