Juventus 4 Rangers 1
There was no Paul Gascoigne, but there were plenty of tears for Rangers in the Stadio Delle Alpi last night. On the ground where Gazza wept in the World Cup five years ago his new club, Rangers, were destroyed by Juventus.
Crucially weakened defensively by suspension, and creatively by injury, Rangers were never in the game. Juventus were two up in 17 minutes through Fabrizio Ravanelli and Antonio Conte. When Alessandro Del Piero added a third six minutes later Rangers were left to play for pride alone.
They failed even to achieve that as Alex Cleland was dismissed for a crude foul on Del Piero 10 minutes into the second half. Richard Gough did score with 12 minutes left but that was little consolation for the Rangers captain, especially as his error had handed Ravanelli a fourth a few minutes earlier.
Even with their missing stars, Gascoigne, Brian Laudrup and Alan McLaren, it is doubtful if the Scottish champions could have survived the "Old Lady's" fire. Juventus, themselves bereft of Gianluca Vialli, were a class apart. While Rangers are almost out of Europe, the Italians' progress to the last eight is all but certain. A subsequent final against Ajax is merely probable.
Though they made the best of the evening, still singing about their ancient religious hatreds long after the final whistle went, it was a depressing evening for Rangers' 3,000 travelling supporters. One of the visiting fans will have had mixed feelings, however. Sean Connery, though professing support for Rangers and tipping a 1-0 win, is a Celtic fan
It was soon obvious that the only chance of his optimistic prediction coming true was if 007 had managed to inveigle himself on to the pitch armed with a gadget from Q that could dispose of Ravanelli and Del Piero.
Ravanelli, who was only passed fit yesterday morning, almost scored in the opening minute. Having burst through on the left, he brought a marvellous one-handed save from Andy Goram. The goalkeeper then got to his feet to block as Angelo De Livio followed up.
Goram remained in action as Juventus massed around his goal. It was the old British failing, Rangers simply could not retain possession long enough to break out of their own half.
The seeds for this had been laid in the team's selection. Cleland, a limited defender, was chosen ahead of the subtleties of Ian Durrant to replace Gascoigne in midfield. There was no one to hold or pass the ball. Within 14 minutes this folly was underlined when Cleland committed the foul on Del Piero that led to the first goal.
Ravanelli took the free-kick but it could have been Moses (not Remi) the way the wall parted in front of him. Goram was left exposed and beaten by a deflection off Craig Moore. Barely a minute later, Rangers failed to clear and the ball broke to Ravanelli, who crossed for Conte to score.
Rangers were still reeling when Del Piero won another free-kick on Rangers' right flank. It was tapped short and, from a tight angle, Del Piero curled it beyond Goram and just inside the far post. It was an audacious and brilliant effort - the angle was so tight few would have attempted such a shot. Del Piero has, however, already scored several such goals in his brief career.
His ability was certainly too much for Cleland. Early in the second half he left the Scot bamboozled on the flank with a delightful turn. A few minutes later he tried a similar move by the corner flag and Cleland scythed him down. Exit Cleland, the second red card in three Champions' League matches for Rangers.
Gough gifted Ravanelli his second with a poor clearance, then scored with a deflected shot from long-range. But both goals were incidental, the match was long finished.
Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, said: "We do not have many chances left. We need a miracle. I was disappointed with the performance but you must take into account the standard of the team we have played. They are as good a team as we have played for years."
They are also Rangers' next European opponents, at Ibrox in a fortnight. Hardly the prospect to lift his shattered team.
Juventus (4-4-2): Peruzzi; Porrini (Carrera, 77), Ferrara, Vierchowod, Torricelli; Di Livio (Marocchi, 64), Sousa, Conte (Tacchinardi, 82), Deschamps; Ravanelli, Del Piero.
Rangers (3-5-2): Goram; Petric, Gough, Moore; Wright (Brown, h-t), Durie, McCall (Murray, 69), Cleland, Robertson; McCoist, Salenko.
Referee: V Zhuk (Belorussia).Reuse content