Albertz sparks renaissance

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Rangers' sense of timing proved immaculate last night as they hit peak form at exactly the right moment to launch themselves towards participation in the Champions' League.

Rangers' sense of timing proved immaculate last night as they hit peak form at exactly the right moment to launch themselves towards participation in the Champions' League.

After a sluggish start to the campaign, there were fears Herfolge might pose questions Rangers would find tough to answer - but in the event it was the Danes who were left clueless in this third qualifying round, first leg, game.

The onslaught was started by Jörg Albertz after 28 minutes when the pace and movement of a shot from distance surprised the Herfolge goalkeeper, Jakup Mikkelsen. Three minutes later Rod Wallace, wasteful in front of goal to date this term, tapped in the second.

Rangers never looked like relinquishing control after that and on the hour the margin was extended to three when Lorenzo Amoruso rifled in a free-kick.

The result makes the return leg a formality for Rangers to reach the first group phase of the Champions' League, the competition destined to make or break their season.

The Danes' coach, John Jensen, the former Arsenal midfielder, kept himself on the bench, but Rangers recalled the German midfielder Albertz after a groin strain. Fernando Ricksen's uncertain start to the season since his summer arrival from AZ Alkmaar brought his demotion to the bench as Giovanni van Bronckhorst switched to left-back.

Neither side imposed themselves on the game in the early stages, though Van Bronckhorst felt a heavy challenge from Steven Lustü which saw him forced off for treatment.

Rangers began to exert sustained pressure midway through the first half, but Albertz's goal came out of virtually nothing as Mikkelsen seemed to lose the ball in its flight.

After 31 minutes, however, Rangers were two ahead when Van Bronckhorst produced a low driven cross which was turned in from a yard by Wallace. Herfolge were now struggling and the substitute Jesper Jacobsen showed his frustration as he crashed into Van Bronckhorst and earned the game's first booking.

Rangers were relentless and on 54 minutes a long-range drive from Van Bronckhorst had Mikkelsen at full stretch to tip the ball over the bar.

A clumsy challenge by Henrik Lykke on Neil McCann proved the winger's last involvement in the match as he was substituted by Allan Johnston - but it proved a pivotal moment. From the resulting free-kick, Amoruso had the ball tapped into his path by Albertz and he fired a stunning rising shot into the roof of the net.

Herfolge: Mikkelsen, Lustü, Jacobsen, Lykke, K Jensen, Hoyer, Falck, Hermansen, Schram, Kastrup, Thomsen. Substitutes: Udengaard, J Jensen, Jakobsen, Henriksen, Heyde, Abel, Knudsen.

Rangers: Klos, Porrini, Konterman, Amoruso, Reyna, Ferguson, McCann, Van Bronckhorst, Albertz, Dodds, Wallace. Substitutes: Brown, Tugay, Kanchelskis, Ricksen, Johnston, Miller, Vidmar.

Referee: L Pucek (Poland).

Comments