Rudy's strike sends Rangers plummeting out of Europe
Rangers 0 Stuttgart 2
Wednesday 25 November 2009
Rangers' abhorrent Champions League campaign hit a new low last night as they were humbled by Stuttgart at Ibrox and crashed out of the competition. Never mind that – the Glasgow boys in blue also kissed goodbye to the consolation prize of a Europa League place. Walter Smith's men are firmly rooted to the bottom of Group G and there they will stay.
"We've not been good enough when the expectation level has been for us to go and win a game," admitted Smith. "We haven't been good enough and we have to take that on board. There are no excuses from us. The home matches have all ended up in a similar fashion regardless of the systems we played."
With Scotland's only representatives now out of the Champions League, Smith was asked how he felt their failings in the tournament reflected on Scottish football as a whole. But he insisted: "I can't talk about Scottish football – I can only talk about Rangers. Some of the other teams might have acquitted themselves better in the Champions League, I don't know. I can't speak about the rest of them. From our own point of view we are extremely disappointed by the way we have played in our home games and that has been the biggest disappointment for us."
Kris Boyd was handed a rare start in the tournament and squandered a decent opportunity to haul Rangers back into the game but Smith refused to brand the moment as pivotal.
Rangers were struggling to cope with the threat of Stuttgart down the left flank and it was the Germans who took the lead after 16 minutes. Alexander Hleb's cutback should have been dispatched into the back of the net by Pavel Pogrebnyak but he miskicked and it was left to Sebastian Rudy to rifle home from close range.
The Germans were celebrating with 59 minutes gone when Rudy whipped in a great cross from the right to Kuzmanovic who bulleted a header past the helpless McGregor.
Rangers (3-4-3): McGregor; McCulloch, Weir, Wilson; Whittaker, Davis, Thomson (Fleck, 77), Papac; Miller (Novo, 69), Boyd, Lafferty (Beasley, 85). Substitutes not used: Alexander (gk), Bougherra, Smith, Little.
Stuttgart (4-4-2): Lehmann; Osorio, Niedermaier, Delpierre, Boka; Rudy (Gebhart, 90), Trasch, Hleb, Kuzmanovic (Hitzlsperger, 75); Cacau, Pogrebniak. Substitutes not used: Ulreich (gk), Tasci, Marica, Hilbert, Schieber.
Referee: R Rosetti (Italy).
Results so far: Stuttgart 1 Rangers 1, Seville 2 Unirea 0; Rangers 1 Seville 4, Unirea 1 Stuttgart 1; Rangers 1 Unirea 4, Stuttgart 1 Seville 3; Unirea 1 Rangers 1, Seville 1 Stuttgart 1; Rangers 0 Stuttgart 2, Unirea 1 Seville 0.
Rangers remaining fixture: Wed 9 Dec: Seville (a).
Unirea Urziceni 1-0 Seville An own goal by Ivica Dragutinovic kept the Romanians on course to qualify.
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