The riches of Europe and the chance to rub shoulders with the royalty of Continental football await Rangers this morning after the completion of a 4-1 aggregate win at Ibrox last night in a Champions' League third qualifying round match illuminated by Dado Prso.
At the draw for the group stage this afternoon in Monaco, the Scottish champions will be lobbed into pot No 3 and emerge in one quartet among hundreds of permutations. Real Madrid, Juventus and Artmedia Bratislava, the recent conquerors of Celtic, would be a stirring combination of opponents. Bayern Munich, PSV and Thun would lack some of that glamour, but these are mere details.
Rangers effectively banked £10m last night and the players earned bonuses of £35,000 per man for progressing. More importantly the quest for European success, that most precious commodity of all, can begin in earnest, and in company where nobody can doubt the quality.
In Prso, Rangers have a player of undoubted calibre and with a pedigree in this competition. The 30-year-old Croatian striker famously scored four goals in a group game against Deportivo La Coruña in an 8-3 win in November 2003 for his former club, Monaco, and a few months later helped the French side dump Chelsea out in the semi-finals.
Prso was at the centre of most of Rangers' decent play, limited though it was. The harrying visitors had the first near miss, in the 14th minute, when their player-coach, Temuri Ketsbaia, who had rushed himself back from injury, thundered a 30-yard shot that hit the inside of the post and bounced out.
It took until the half hour for Rangers, who led the tie 2-1 from the first leg, to gain any fluidity, through Prso, who dribbled, unleashed shots, dived for a curling, dipping free-kick and headed wide, and then lashed a bender around the post from the left corner of the penalty area.
His one-man shows have already become a feature of Rangers' season, and perhaps sparked by the realisation he could use a hand, his fellow forwards raised their game. Seven minutes from the break, Nacho Novo flicked the ball to Thomas Buffel, who surged to the "D" and chipped the keeper.
If that was composed, Rangers' second goal, in the 58th minute, was delicious. Prso, some 30 yards out, juggled the ball under control, turned, made a jinking run and then slammed home with precision.
Rangers (4-3-1-2): Waterreus; Ricksen, Pierre-Fanfan, Rodriguez, Ball; Ferguson, Murray, Lovenkrands (Rae, 86); Buffel (McCormack, 75); Novo, Prso (Thompson, 66). Substitutes not used: Klos (gk), Andrews, Malcolm, Khizanishvilli.
Anorthosis Famagusta (4-3-1-2): Georgallides; Poursaitidis, Katsavakis, Louka, Xenidis; Maragos (Konstantinou, 52), Haber, Nikolaou; Ketsbaia (Samaras, 64); Tsitaishvili (Tsolakides, 72), Frousos. Substitutes not used: Nagy, Kampantais, Markou, Parmakis.
Referee: V Ivanov (Russia).Reuse content