Mols sets up feast to hearten Rangers' campaign

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The Independent Online

Rangers crushed the Austrian makeweights Sturm Graz last night to fire a five-goal Champions' League warning to the rest of Europe. Goals from Michael Mols, Ronald de Boer, Jorg Albertz, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Billy Dodds will give their Group D rivals Galatasaray and Monaco food for thought. Rangers could have made the victory even more emphatic but Albertz missed a penalty.

Rangers crushed the Austrian makeweights Sturm Graz last night to fire a five-goal Champions' League warning to the rest of Europe. Goals from Michael Mols, Ronald de Boer, Jorg Albertz, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Billy Dodds will give their Group D rivals Galatasaray and Monaco food for thought. Rangers could have made the victory even more emphatic but Albertz missed a penalty.

Mols netted one of the easiest goals of his career to give Rangers an instant cure to their shaky domestic start. De Boer, Albertz and Mols combined for the opening goal in the 10th-minute. The recalled Allan Johnston crossed, Albertz tried to hook the ball to De Boer under pressure and it looked as though Gilbert Prilasnig would shepherd the ball away. But De Boer got the better of him on the byline to set up Mols in front of goal.

Rangers took a grip of the game before it was 20 minutes old with another goal, with De Boer the scorer. Mols's cross from the left was far too deep. It found Johnston, however, and his ball to the near post was perfect for De Boer to ram it into the roof of the net.

The Austrians' nerves were further frayed when Ramiz Mamedov fouled Mols on the edge of the area. Albertz's thumping shot beat the wall, but the goalkeeper Josef Schicklgruber was there to block.

Graz had offered little save a back-post header from Markus Schopp that went wide but just before the half-hour mark the captain Hannes Reinmayr fired over from distance.

However, Mols and Albertz were the real heroes and the German, after firing wastefully over from Mols's pass, made no mistake moments later when Van Bronckhorst found him in space on the left just inside the penalty area and he hammered the ball past the goalkeeper to give Rangers a three-goal lead before half an hour had been played. Mols might have made it four when Johnston found him unmarked in the box but his first-time effort was too high. Schopp almost pulled one back four minutes before the break with a drive that was just wide.

In the 55th minute, Rangers had the luxury of missing a penalty when De Boer was tripped on the edge of the area cutting inside Mamedov. Albertz's effort was parried, Johnston found Arthur Numan at the far post but he could not turn it into an empty net.

Dodds set up Van Bronckhorst for the fourth goal in the 72nd minute when he surged forward and, feinting to pass to Dodds, eluded two defenders before slipping the ball into Van Bronckhorst's path for a low shot into the corner of the net. With five minutes to go Dodds made it 5-0 with a sublime chip over Schicklgruber.

Rangers: Klos, Reyna, Konterman, Amoruso, Numan, de Boer (McCann), Ferguson, Albertz, van Bronckhorst, Johnston (Kanchelskis), Mols (Dodds, 60). Substitutes: Charbonnier, Ricksen, Tugay, Vidmar.

Sturm Graz: Schicklgruber, Mamedov, Foda, Strafner, Schopp, Schupp, Korsos, Fleurquin, Prilasnig, Reinmayr, Yuran. Substitutes: Baruwa, Mahlich, Szabicz, Popovic, Koutsoupias.

Referee: L Cortez-Bapista (Portugal).

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