Advocaat eager to end the curse of Christmas

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The Independent Online

Rangers survived a scare on their arrival in Paris yesterday when the pilot of their chartered plane had to abort landing with just seconds to spare.

The pilot, Steve Westmacott, had to take evasive action when he spotted an American airliner still on the runway as he approached. Westmacott sent his plane surging upwards as Dick Advocaat's players wondered what was happening. Westmacott said: "I could see the runway through the window. There was a plane on it."

Rangers' aircraft was forced to circle around the French capital, where tonight they play Paris St-Germain, for a further 20 minutes before making a successful landing.

The third-round, second leg at the Parc des Princes will decide whether Rangers can survive in European competition past Christmas for the first time since 1993. With the first leg ending goalless, Rangers will have to score to go through. Advocaat, the Rangers manager, said: "The players have to show that they can score the goals against top teams. It is not about confidence, they have to be a little bit sharper in front of goal."

The England defender Michael Ball was missing from the travelling party after suffering a knee injury in training yesterday. He joins an injury list that already includes Neil McCann and Christian Nerlinger. Fernando Ricksen, who is suspended, and the ineligible Shota Arveladze, also did not make the trip.

The Rangers' midfielder Claudio Reyna said his imminent £4.75m move to Sunderland has not distracted him from tonight's tie. Reyna said: "I just want to concentrate on the game on Thursday and after that we will see.

"There is still on-going talks and that is all I can say. Yes, there is a possibility that this could be my last game, but I don't want to think about that and I haven't been."

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