Relief for goalless Rangers

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The Independent Online

Anorthosis Famagusta 0 Rangers 0 (Rangers win 1-0 on agg)

Rangers realised their ambition of a place in the European Champions' League - and a financial windfall of at least pounds 5m - as they secured a goalless draw in Cyprus last night. Rangers maintained the 1-0 aggregate they gained at Ibrox a fortnight ago despite the endeavours of a spirited Anorthosis Famagusta who came close late in the game to closing the deficit.

Afterwards the Rangers manager, Walter Smith, criticised the process by which Rangers were forced to qualify for the League. "It is an unfair pressure on clubs who are already rated as the top 24 champions of Europe," he said. "I feel that should be enough for you to play in the group stages of the European Cup. You win your League title yet your European fate is decided even before you kick off your next League campaign. It's unfair on coaches."

Smith gave a surprise debut to the Serbian defender Gordan Petric as his third foreign player. Petric was in a three-man defence, with Richard Gough and Alan McLaren. Charlie Miller and Stuart McCall were alongside Paul Gascoigne in a five-man midfield, with Gordon Durie partnering Mark Hateley in attack.

Anorthosis's 9,500-capacity stadium in Larnaca was brimming, with three to four thousand extra fans packing the terraces. The Cypriots let off flares before the start, leaving Rangers to kick off in a veil of smoke. In the sixth minute Miller tumbled in the penalty area under a challenge by Georgios Panayi, but instead of awarding a spot kick the Hungarian referee penalised the Scot for diving.

After 25 minutes, Gascoigne signalled to the bench that he had suffered what looked like a groin or thigh injury, and was replaced by Ian Durrant. Rangers had Andy Goram to thank for a 30th-minute save as the goalkeeper halted a shot by Demetris Ashiotis with his right foot.

Miller squandered Rangers' best opportunity after 55 minutes when put through by Durrant only to be denied by Nicos Panayiotou who saved with his feet. Then, with 16 minutes left, Goram brilliantly tipped a shot by Valentin Ignatov over the bar as Rangers clung to their first-leg advantage. However, bookings for David Robertson and McLaren tempered Rangers' delight - and relief - in progressing to the Champions' League.

Anorthosis Famagusta (1-4-4-1): M Panayiotou; A Panayiotou; Andreou, Castanas, Panayi, Kiriakov; Ashiotis (Pounnas, 60), Stavrou, Gogic, Todorov; Ignatov (Thoma, 75).

Rangers (3-5-2): Goram; Wright, Gough, McLaren; Robertson, Petric, McCall, Gascoigne (Durrant, 25), Miller; Hateley, Durie.

Referee: L Vagner (Hungary).

n Afan Lido are seeking to postpone their League of Wales fixture against Ebbw Vale on Saturday after six of their players were assaulted by 30 youths in a Latvian night-club following their Uefa Cup preliminary round tie with RAF Riga on Tuesday.