McLeish urges Rangers to raise game for Villarreal

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The Independent Football

Alex McLeish, the Rangers manager, has warned his players they must do better against Villarreal tomorrow than they did at the weekend.

McLeish watched as Rangers made hard work of a 2-1 win over Falkirk in the Scottish Premier League on Saturday before they flew out to Spain for their Champions' League game tomorrow.

A 2-2 draw in the first leg at Ibrox means Villarreal are favourites but McLeish has faith in his players if they can step up a gear. "They can all play a bit better," he said. "Everybody can play better."

Kris Boyd's opened the scoring for Rangers in the 57th minute, only for Russell Latapy to equalise against his old team nine minutes later. An own goal from Mark Twaddle with 20 minutes to go handed the points to Rangers but McLeish said of Falkirk's equaliser: "It was a concentration lapse and we can't continue to do things like that in a game of football at any level."

McLeish complained that his plans had been hampered by injury and illness. Ian Murray and Chris Burke had suffered from flu earlier in the week, while both Thomas Buffel and Hamed Namouchi were declared unfit. Olivier Bernard - out since November with a cruciate injury - was drafted into the team, along with Boyd and Nacho Novo.

"I hope it [the flu] has not spread any further or we have problems this week," McLeish said.

While Celtic maintained their healthy lead at the top of the table with a 3-0 win against Aberdeen on Saturday, thanks to late goals from Stilian Petrov, Shaun Maloney and Maciej Zurawski, Hearts stay eight points ahead of Rangers in second after beating the bottom club, Livingston, 3-2 yesterday.

In his first home match as Livingston manager, the former Hearts player John Robertson saw his side level twice in the second half through Richard Brittain and Dave MacKay.

However, Roman Bednar came off the bench to hit Hearts' winner with three minutes left to add to earlier goals from Bruno Aguiar and Edgar Jankauskas.

Hearts' stand-in captain, Andy Webster, refused to be drawn on speculation over his future after the game at Almondvale. Webster has been strongly linked with a move to Rangers in the summer, but the defender played down the reports.

"We have done well to take the three points and that is all the team and I are concerned about," he said.