Rangers go out to Strunz's penalty

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The Independent Online

The brave hearts from many lands wore the colours of Rangers with pride and distinction but no luck whatever last night as they were cruelly deprived of a place in the second phase of the Champions' League.

The brave hearts from many lands wore the colours of Rangers with pride and distinction but no luck whatever last night as they were cruelly deprived of a place in the second phase of the Champions' League.

Recovering from a nervous start, they struck the bar or post three times on either side of conceding a highly dubious penalty, which enabled Bayern to avoid the embarrassment of elimination six months after finishing as runners-up. Unimpressive as they were, the Germans probably believed they were due the good fortune that deserted them in last season's final against Manchester United.

Some 7,000 Rangers supporters had heeded the anthem "follow, follow" and descended from all points north on Munich, staging a Bier Fest of their own; many seemed emotional, not to say tired, even before the evening's dramas began. Their optimism about the outcome was based on the Scot's excellent performances in achieving a double over PSV Eindhoven and a draw at Ibrox with Bayern, who would have been eliminated before last night's game had they not benefited from Michael Tarnat's deflected free-kick in the last minute.

Tarnat was one of five players from that team left out as the Bayern coach, Ottmar Hitzfeld, put his faith in a South American attack comprising the Paraguayan teenager Roque Santa Cruz and Brazil's Giovane Elber. The former Bundesliga players Jörg Albertz and Claudio Reyna were fit to start for Rangers, while Rodney Wallace was preferred to Jonatan Johansson, who had scored a hat-trick against less demanding opposition in Aberdeen on Saturday.

Wallace and his partner, Michael Mols, could do little but watch and pray as their team-mates at the back came under intense pressure in the opening ten minutes. Elber headed Bayern's first corner on to the roof of the net and within 60 seconds Stefan Effenberg and Lothar Matthäus set up Santa Cruz for a shot from close in that Stefan Klos saved with his leg. Dreadful defending on the right then allowed Bixente Lizarazu to present Elber with an inviting opportunity, which he spurned.

Slowly Rangers recovered their poise, making two excellent chances of their own before the penalty. Mols dribbled between two defenders and cut back a pass for Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who shot wastefully high.

In the 25th minute the Dutchman went down the left and Mols headed against a post. Two more bad strokes of misfortune cost the Scottish champions heavily before half- time. In the 32nd minute their defence was opened up by Elber and Effenberg, and Mehmet Scholl was awarded a penalty for running across Van Bronckhorst and falling over. Klos got his right hand to Thomas Strunz's kick but could not keep it out.

Eight minutes before the interval Albertz pulled the ball back for Wallace, whose fierce shot was brilliantly diverted on to the underside of the bar by Oliver Kahn.

The change of ends did not bring a change of luck. Johansson, who had replaced the injured Mols, escaped down the right and his cross fell for Van Bronckhorst, whose left-footed shot from 25 yards also struck a post. Then Wallace wriggled through and slid the ball past Kahn, only for Linke to clear off the line. So the Scottish champions, in their 40th season of European competition, are back in the Uefa Cup.

Bayern Munich: (3-4-1-2) Kahn; Babbel, Matthäus, Linke; Strunz, Effenberg (Tarnat, 74), Fink, Lizarazu; Scholl (Salihamidzic 65); Elber, Santa Cruz (Paulo Sergio, 65). Substitutes not used: Wessels (gk), Andersson, Jancker, Zickler.

Rangers: (4-4-2) Klos; Porrini, Moore, Amoruso, Numan (McCann, 71); Reyna, Van Bronckhorst, B Ferguson, Albertz; Mols (Johansson, 30), Wallace (Amato, 80). Substitutes not used: Charbonnier (gk), Kanchelskis, Vidmar, Adamczuk.

Referee: V Melo Pereira (Portugal).

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