Rangers’ second prestigious Ibrox friendly finished just like the first – all square following a 1-1 draw with Leeds United at Ibrox tonight.
The new orange tops were in full bloom inside the Stadium as a 32,000 crowd (including a healthy contingent from Leeds) saw Lorenzo Amoruso lead out a makeshift Rangers side with Barry Ferguson amongst the numerous absentees, and just one natural midfielder inthe starting line-up.
From the opening seconds both Ian Harte and Robbie Keane were roundly booed whenever they were on the ball – obviously a retort to the treatment meted out to Rangers players on International duty in Dublin.
After a quiet opening a controversial decision by Referee Hugh Dallas effectively gave Leeds the lead when Peter Lovenkrands was blatantly fouled by Eric Bakke only for the World Cup Final official to astonishingly turn a blind eye. Leeds hit on the break – with Alan Smith heading home an Ian Harte cross to give the visitors the lead.
Two minutes later Rangers should have levelled matters when Claudio Caniggia squared the ball to present Tore Andre Flo with a golden opening, only for the £12.5m striker to completely miss-kick in front of goal.
Leeds had control of the midfield – and might have gone two up in 33 minutes when a long through-ball found Keane clear in on goal only to slice his shot wide of the post.
It had been a poor first-half from the much-changed Ibrox side, as was reflected in Manager Alex McLeish’s half-time decision to introduce four substitutes, including Craig Moore who not only replaced Lorenzo Amoruso in central defence but also as captain.
Five minutes after the restart another of the subs. – Shota Arveladze – equalised from the penalty spot when he was fouled by Ian Harte and duly converted the spot-kick himself.
Sixty seconds later Bakke almost restored United’slead with a powerful twenty-yard drive that was touched over by Stefan Klos.
The first yellow card of the evening arrived on the hour when Kevin Muscat fell foul of Hugh Dallas for an innocuous trip on Harte.
Midway through the second-half Klos kept Rangers level when he clawed out a Harry Kewell header from an Ian Harte corner.
Three minutes later the referee’s inconsistency was apparent when Ian Harte firstly kicked then hauled down Flo only to escape with nothing more than a talking-to.
Rangers came close to snatching the lead in 78 minutes when Flo scooped the ball just wide from Russell Latapy’s pass, but the final chance of the evening fell at the other end when Kewell broke free in a suspiciously offside position only to see his goalbound effort deflected wide by Klos.
RANGERS Klos; Muscat, Amoruso (Moore 45), Malcolm, Ross; Ricksen (Latapy 45), Arteta (Hughes 45), Konterman, Lovenkrands (Arveladze 45); Caniggia (Dodds 67), Flo (Mols 88)
UNUSED SUBS. McGregor
LEEDS UNITED Robinson (Martin 45); Mills, Harte; Dacourt (Wilcox 67), Woodgate (Radese 23), Matteo; Keane (Johnston 67), Bakke, Smith, Kewell (McPhail 88), Bowyer
UNUSED SUBS. Duberry, Richardson