Jarosik makes Rangers pay for lapses in concentration

CSKA Moscow 2 - Rangers 1
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Rangers must produce a winning performance at home if they are to play in the Champions' League this season, following this defeat in the Russian capital last night.

Rangers must produce a winning performance at home if they are to play in the Champions' League this season, following this defeat in the Russian capital last night.

Alex McLeish's side came off second best to the Russian champions in the first leg of their final qualifying round tie. Rangers had made a stumbling start, allowing CSKA to score in only the fourth minute. Nacho Novo equalised before the break - but within seconds of the restart Jiri Jarosek had fired the hosts back in front, and despite frantic play at either end that was how it finished.

And McLeish was under no illusion why. Concentration, or more pointedly the lack of it, was chiefly to blame. "It was unbelievable that we should give ourselves an uphill struggle like that at the start of both halves," he said. "We spoke at half-time, we had got back into it and to lose concentration like that - it was a peach of a finish, the big fella has shown a great bit of skill - but, to lose the possession at the throw-in and not be tighter?"

Indeed, it was difficult to disagree after witnessing Jarosek Czech being left in acres of space from that throw-in move to motor down the left touchline and then fire a rasping drive across and beyond Stefan Klos from a tight position.

That had nullified all the hard work shown by Rangers to get back into the game after Vagner Love's early strike. The Brazilian, who cost CSKA £5.5m during the summer, threw himself forward to meet a cross from the left delivered by his strike partner Ivica Olic and which took a deflection off Zura Khizanishvili.

Soon after Klos had to dive at full stretch to keep out a 30-yard free-kick from Jarosik and when Vagner gave the French duo Gregory Vignal and Jean-Alain Boumsong the slip, the Rangers goalkeeper needed all his experience to deflect the shot round his near post.

Rangers were giving away too many free-kicks and finding themselves penned into their own half too often, and there was another scare when Olic got in behind Boumsong chasing a long ball over the top. The Croatian went down as the Frenchman challenged, but the referee waved play on from a distant position.

It was the other Croatian on the pitch, Rangers' Dado Prso, who was to make the next significant contribution. The striker had made little impact and was often been forced wide on the left as Rangers struggled to create. But when Vasily Berezutskiy lost control of the ball for a second he was alive to the possibilities and, having left the defender trailing, slipped the ball across for Novo, who after a goal-line mêlée, eventually retrieved the ball in the box to gleefully slot in for the vital away goal in the 37th minute.

But the reprieve was short-lived as Jarosik needed only a few seconds after the restart to make it 2-1. The home side then subjected Rangers to a barrage of corners - and there was yet another scare when Vagner, having moved effortlessly past Ross, fired across goal and narrowly wide.

Alex Rae gave the ball straight to Vagner, and Khizanishvili was booked for fouling him before he could reach the area. Vagner was replaced by Serghei Dadu in the 70th minute before a flurry of yellow cards saw Ricksen, Novo and Yury Zhirkov all booked.

Rae was to join them in stoppage time, having previously escaped punishment when his boot connected with an opponent's head. The game ended with Rangers throwing men forward as if this was the deciding leg.

That will be at Ibrox in a fortnight's time, however, and Novo's away goal could prove crucial. McLeish certainly thought as much, saying: "The away goal has given us a chance back at Ibrox so let's hope it will be crucial in our favour."

CSKA Moscow: Akinfeev, Semberas, Berezoutski, Gusev, Olic, Wagner, Odiah, Zhirkov, Jarosik, Berezutsky, Rahimic. Substitutes: Mandrykin (gk), Semak, Kirichenko, Laizans, Aldonin, Dadu, Shershun.

Rangers: Klos, Ricksen, Khizanishvili, Boumsong, Vignal, Ross, Alex Rae, Arveladze, Lovenkrands, Novo, Prso. Substitutes: Smith (gk), Thompson, Vanoli, Malcolm, Hughes, Hutton, Andrews.

Referee: Jan Wegereef (Neth)

Comments