Newcomers keep Rangers stuck in the slow lane

Rangers 0 Livingston 0
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The Independent Online

The good news for Russell Latapy is that Rangers always insist that their players stay in a hotel in Glasgow before any European tie at Ibrox.

The wayward Trinidadian spent Saturday in the stand because he had arrived too late after being stuck in a motorway traffic jam. He watched penitently as Dick Advocaat's side were also halted in their tracks by Livingston, and a repeat result against Fenerbahce on Wednesday would cast doubt over all Champions' League travel plans for the rest of the season.

Latapy will not be fined by Advocaat for arriving just 45 minutes before kick-off – Livingston fans suffered the same fate as the former Hibernian midfielder, who still lives in Edinburgh – but he will expect a performance against the Turkish champions in the first leg of their third qualifying round as atonement.

"I didn't think it would have been right to play Russell," said the Rangers manager. "He would have been too uptight and nervous after a journey that took three hours." If there are shades of Stan Collymore about Latapy, who has just begun a ban for drink-driving, then it extends to the pitch too. The enigmatic playmaker, who shone in the Champions' League with FC Porto, can prise open tight defences.

However, Livingston provided a dress rehearsal for Advocaat's side with a stubbornness which Fenerbahce would do well to match.

But this was no backs-to-the-wall display by the newest recruits to the Scottish Premier League. Had Stefan Klos not produced a stunning save from Davide Xausa's first-half drive, or David Bingham's 54th-minute header from Barry Wilson's cross not spun out after clipping the inside of the post, Livingston would have been celebrating victory on their first visit to Ibrox.

Livingston have come a long way since exchanging their identity six years ago after public indifference in Edinburgh as Meadowbank Thistle. Three promotions in that time, a new 10,000-seat stadium and a clutch of experienced foreign and domestic signings gave them a polish of assurance on Saturday.

"I have been here a few times with St Johnstone and Dunfermline," said captain Bingham, "and the best result I have had is this draw. We deserved it." They probably deserved more. The skill of former Deportivo La Coruña striker David Fernandez and the running of Xausa and Wilson troubled Rangers.

Advocaat, though, was not quite as pleased with his strikeforce. Tore Andre Flo was withdrawn at half-time and Caniggia followed soon after. Advocaat moaned: "What was the point in passing to them? The strikers could not hold the ball up." Latapy, though, knew all about hold-ups.

Rangers (4-3-1-2): Klos; Ricksen, Moore, S Wilson, Vidmar; Hughes, Konterman, McCann; Johnston (Kanchelskis, 62); Caniggia (Miller, 71), Flo (Mols, h-t). Substitutes not used: Christiansen (gk), Ross.

Livingston (4-4-2): Broto; Brinquin, Rubio, Andrews, Bollan; B Wilson (Lowndes, 67), Quinto, Lovell, Bingham (Tosh, 79); Fernandez, Xausa (Caputo, 89). Substitutes not used: McEwan (gk), Hart.

Referee: A Freeland.

Bookings: Rangers: Moore, Vidmar; Livingston: Lowndes, Xausa, Rubio.

Man of the match: Broto.

Attendance: 47,805.

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