Rangers Triumph In Five-Goal Thriller
perfect start tonight with a 3-2 win over Porto at
Ibrox in a thrilling game that surged from end to end
It was one of the great European nights at Ibrox - a
night when Rangers silenced the prophets of doom that
had encircled the club.
'Eck' made three changes to the side that had so
disappointed at Falkirk, with debutant Olivier
Bernard, Peter Lovenkrands and Francis Jeffers
replacing Pierre Fanfan, Thomas Buffel and Nacho Novo.
Porto are of course remembered with great fondness by
all friends of Rangers for Seville 2003 when they
comprehensively outplayed and outclassed Celtic. On
their previous visit to Ibrox, in October 1983, the
Portuguese club went down 2-1 courtesy of goals from
Sandy Clark and David Mitchell yet went through on the
away goals rule following a 1-0 success in the return
game played in the Estadio Das Antas and went on to
that year's European Cup Winners' Cup Final before
going down to Juventus.
It was the Portuguese who made the early running -
Ricardo Costa slicing his shot wide from a Cesar
Peixoto cross in fifteen minutes.
Five minutes later a Lovenkrands error almost let in
Alan - his shot being deflected wide.
Ronald Waterreus was undoubtedly the busier goalkeeper
at this juncture - a superb last-gasp tackle thwarting
Tomislav Sokota when the Porto centre was clean
Somewhat against the run of play, Rangers opened the
scoring in 34 minutes when Fernando Ricksen's cross
found Lovenkrands who hooked the ball home past the
advancing Vitor Baia.
Sixty seconds later a collision between Dado Prso and
Pedro Emanuel led to the Croatian requiring his head
bandaged and the Porto Captain to be substituted. Prso
was also yellow-carded for his troubles, an extremely
harsh decision as the collision was clearly
Rangers had a strong penalty claim turned down by
Dutch Referee Jan Wegereef (who of course took charge
in Moscow last season when Rangers faced CSKA) -
Jeffers being barged from behind by Pepe just before
The 48,599 spectators were in good heart at the
interval, but it took Porto just two minutes after the
restart to level matters when Pepe headed Cesar
Peixoto's inswinging corner home.
If that was bad enough, things almost got a lot worse
five minutes later when both Alan and Sokota were
clear on a Lucho through-ball only to be denied by the
legs of Waterreus.
Rangers were still threatening however - Jeffers
seeing his volley from a Prso cross held by Vitor Baia
in 54 minutes, then sixty seconds later the
influential and intelligent Thomas Buffel was
introduced to replace Lovenkrands.
It was end-to-end stuff now - Diego cutting inside and
unleashing a twenty-yarder that was turned wide by
Waterreus, then the Light Blues regained the lead in
58 minutes when a Barry Ferguson free-kick broke to
Hamed Namouchi whose overhead flick saw both Prso and
Vitor Baia jump for the ball, the Ranger forcing the
ball over the line.
Porto came back once again - five minutes later Cesar
Peixoto's 25-yard wide-angled free-kick flashed inches
Inswinging corners had been troubling Rangers all
night - witness the first goal - and another from
Jorginho in 66 minutes was met by Almeida at the near
post, his header flashing across the face of goal.
Incredibly even that warning was not heeded - five
minutes later yet another from Cesar Peixoto was
chested over the line by Pepe, with Julien Rodriguez
turning his back on the ball to shadow another forward
on the goal-line.
In an incredible night there was however yet another
twist in the tail - Sotirios Kyrgiakos back-heading a
long through-ball from Ferguson into the net via an
The night was won - the win providing the perfect
answer to the mounting criticism that Manager Alex
McLeish and his team have faced since the weekend, and
whilst one swallow had never made a summer, this
result surely provides a platform for the campaign
ahead both at home and in Europe.
A triumphant Alex McLeish reflected:
"We showed great spirit and played for the jersey.
Porto are a very good technical side, we grew in
confidence as the game developed. This result sets us
up for the games to come. The players need to show
that attitude and tempo in every game."
RANGERS Waterreus; Ricksen, Kyrgiakos, Rodriguez,
Bernard; Namouchi (Novo 71), Ferguson, Murray,
Lovenkrands (Buffel 55); Jeffers (Thompson 83), Prso
UNUSED SUBS Fanfan, Klos, Andrews, A. Rae
PORTO Vitor Baia; Pepe, Ricardo Costa, Pedro Emanuel
(Sonkaya 40), Cesar Peixoto; Lucho, Diego (Quaresma
64), Ibson, Alan (Almeida 64), Sokota, Jorginho
UNUSED SUBS Assuncao, Ribeiro, Lisandro, Cech
REFEREE Jan Wegereef (Netherlands)