No Cheer In San Siro

Last updated : 30 September 2005 By Southside Johnny
Rangers went down 0-1 to Italian giants Internazionale
in the ghost-like atmosphere of the San Siro in Milan
in the second group match of the Champions' League

In an uninspiring match, the Scottish Champions defied
many critics who predicted a humiliating defeat given
recent unimpressive form - but in the final analysis
seldom looked like breaching the 'Serie A' side's

The Stadio Guiseppe Meazza - or San Siro - is of
course one of the great cathedrals of world football,
but tragically for the game the visit of Rangers was,
by dint of UEFA decree, categorised as a 'closed
doors' fixture although the presence of various
sponsor's guests hardly equate with one's
understanding of such a regulation.

Manager Alex McLeish made two changes from Tynecastle
with Thomas Buffel and Peter Lovenkrands replacing
Marvin Andrews and Nacho Novo against a home side
containing no fewer than eight South Americans.

Inter had the ball in the net in the second minute
when Luis Figo's free-kick found Obafemi Martins in an
obviously off side position.

Sixty seconds later Santiago Solari's angled drive was
held by Ronald Waterreus.

The Light Blues should have opened the scoring in nine
minutes when Lovenkrands, just six yards out, volleyed
over from a Hamed Namouchi cross.

Rangers had settled well, maintaining their
concentration and discipline in the most difficult of
circumstances - Namouchi testing home goalkeeper Julio
Cesar with a thirty-five yard drive in 23 minutes.

Five minutes later Buffel shot wide from a Lovenkrands
flick as hopes began to grow of a major shock.

Inter however were presented with a glorious
opportunity to open the scoring in 36 minutes when
Greek Referee Kyros Vassaras judged that Waterreus had
brought down Julio Cruz following an Olivier Bernard
error. It was a poor decision, as the Dutch goalkeeper
had clearly touched the ball, but in the event Cruz
struck the post with the penalty.

Having survived that scare, Rangers found themselves
under increasing pressure as the interval approached -
three minutes later an Ian Murray error enabled Cruz
to release Martins who shot into the side-net, then
Figo headed over from a Solari cross.

Goalless at half-time, too many errors were
nevertheless creeping into the visitors' play - two
minutes after the restart a wayward Namouchi pass
almost allowed Cruz in - Sotirios Kyrgiakos making a
superb last ditch tackle.

The opening goal was merely delayed however - sixty
seconds later David Pizzaro found the net with a
25-yard free-kick that was deflected past Waterreus.

Rangers refused to give up however - Bernard's driven
corner in 62 minutes finding Namouchi at the near
post, his header flashing across the face of goal.

Inter should however have clinched victory ten minutes
later when in a swift break substitute Alvaro Recoba
squared for Solari who somehow - with an open goal in
front of him - put it wide.

The Ibrox defence was solid throughout with Kyrgiakos
and Julien Rodriguez outstanding, but further forward
Inter were relatively untroubled and finished the game
1-0 winners.

Alex McLeish was in a positive mood afterwards:

"We went for broke in the closing stages. I asked for
a performance - our back four were excellent tonight.
Rodriguez showed his Champions' League pedigree."

Commenting on the astonishing news from Portugal that
Artmedia Bratislava had defeated Porto, 'Eck'

"This is a phenomenal result. All of Europe will be

INTERNAZIONALE Julio Cesar; Cordoba, Samuel,
Materazzi, Wome; Figo (Ze Maria 75), Pizarro,
Cambiasso, Solari (Kily Gonzalez 85); Martins (Recoba
60), Cruz
UNUSED SUBS Toldo, Stankovic, Adriano, Favalli

RANGERS Waterreus; Ricksen, Rodriguez, Kyrgiakos,
Bernard; Namouchi (Thompson 90), Ferguson, Murray
(Nieto 84), Lovenkrands; Buffel (Jeffers 78), Prso
UNUSED SUBS Klos, Andrews, Malcolm, Fanfan

REFEREE Kyros Vassaras (Greece)