Dodds double rescues Rangers

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Billy Dodds wiped the sweat from Rangers' brow with two dramatic late goals which took the heat off Dick Advocaat's team in what ought to have been a Champions' League formality.

Billy Dodds wiped the sweat from Rangers' brow with two dramatic late goals which took the heat off Dick Advocaat's team in what ought to have been a Champions' League formality.

The Scottish champions were toiling against nine men at a humid Ibrox last night and facing a perilous trip to Lithuania next Wednesday, until Dodds rescued them from ignominy.

With Zalgiris hanging on to a precious away goal, substitute Dodds gathered a pass from Fernando Ricksen in the 89th minute and buried a rising shot from 16 yards. Two minutes into injury time, the striker swivelled and another right foot shot found the net. Panic over.

The shirt-sleeved crowd bore testimony to the humid evening in Glasgow and an impressive attendance, given the lack of glamour attached to the Lithuanians. The Rangers manager used the occasion to give debuts to two of his six summer signings, the Dutch full-back Ricksen and Allan Johnston.

It was the former Sunderland winger who made the most telling contribution after 14 minutes when he put Rangers ahead.

Jorg Albertz finally cast off his team's lethargy with a stinging shot from outside the box which was blocked by a defender's leg as goalkeeper Marius Poskus went down to meet the ball. The rebound fell into Johnston's path and the Scotland international unerringly drilled a shot through a ruck of players.

Only the agility of Poskus prevented Johnston from doubling his total four minutes later, punching the right foot shot clear, but the Rangers support were disarmed of any thoughts of a rout when Zalgiris equalised in the 26th minute.

Andruius Zuta made light of his lonely role in attack when he gathered a throw-in from Audrius Ksanavicius and held off two challenges before lashing a right-foot shot high past Stefan Klos from 16 yards.

Ibrox was stunned into silence, though howls of disapproval would soon follow as Vadim Petrenko, the Zalgiris midfielder, undertook a mission to seek and destroy Albertz.

Several heavy fouls went unpunished before the Lithuanian was booked in the 32nd minute for scything down Albertz. Another piece of folly against the German seven minutes later saw a red card flourished in Petrenko's face.

Advocaat's anger at his side's failure to break down the Lithuanians was underlined by his withdrawal of the muted Jonatan Johansson and defender Scott Wilson for forwards Dodds and Neil McCann.

The latter's arrival sparked a flurry of dangerous crosses from which Rangers won a series of corners. One of them was met by Albertz whose venomous volley was only kept out by Darius Regelskis at the expense of treatment to ease the defender's pain.

Regelskis returned to the pitch and played a part in the breakaway which threatened to confront Rangers with a deficit. Marius Bezykornovas ought to kept the attack flowing but selfishly shot and Klos was relieved to see the ball go a foot wide of the post.

Frayed nerves were becoming more evident around Ibrox until Zalgiris self-destructed in the 62nd minute to allow Rangers to regain the initiative.

Poskus strayed too far to collect a Johnston cross and then dropped the ball before inexplicably pulling down Craig Moore when he had defensive help at hand.

Albertz steered a crisp left-foot penalty beyond the keeper and Zalgiris compounded their error just two minutes later when they were reduced to nine men after Nerijus Barasa was sent off for his repeated dissent over the penalty award.

Rangers (4-4-2): Klos; Ricksen, Moore, Wilson (McCann, h-t), Vidmar (Miller, 70); Reyna, Ferguson, Albertz, Johnston; Johansson (Dodds, h-t), Wallace.

Zalgiris Kaunas (4-5-1): Poskus; Dedura, Kancelskis, Zelmikas, Barasa; Joudeikis, Petrenko, Ksanavicius, Bezykornovas (Gelgota, 72), Regelskis (Mika, 54); Zuta (Danilicevas, 66).

Referee: E Zammit (Malta).