Match Report - Rangers 0 Santos 1

Last updated : 21 July 2002 By Grandmaster Suck

Rangers 0 Santos 1

Things got off to a better start than last week when they played the respective Clubs national anthems. Following the Brazilian national and them we were treated to God Save The Queen as opposed to the music hall opus that is Scotland the Brave from the week before.

This good start proved to be one of the few positives that could be taken from today's events. Rangers started with Klos in goal, a back three of Moore, Konterman and Amoruso. Muscat and Numan took the wing back berths.

Ferguson and Arteta manned the midfield with De Boer playing just behind a front two of Flo and Arveladze.

The game started as it would continue for much of the match; with Santos dominating possession. Despite this they found it difficult to graft out any chances and Rangers appeared the slightly more dangerous in their rare forays attacking. These attacks started promising enough but can be summed up by the one word that highlighted Rangers performance - disjointed.

The first real opening came for Santos in 8 minutes when Rangers failed to close down on numerous occasions. This resulted in a well struck shot from 18 yards which Klos tipped over.

While most of the Rangers team seemed off the pace Ferguson was working as hard as he could in the midfield. He was rushing and trying to forcem their play. He was inadequately supported for this to have much effect.

On the rare occasions that Rangers linked more than two passes signs were promising. One such linkage between Muscat and Arteta was pleasing to watch only for the final ball to be slightly over hit to Flo.

Sloppiness was entering Rangers play at times and this sloppiness began leading to free kicks. One such Free Kick was about 25 yards out and was well struck by the Santos number 6, himself a quite accomplished centre half. Fortunately the strike was caught up in the rut of players.

Bert was our defensive mainstay. What can be said about him that hasn't been said before? No-one was surprised when he had a simple pass only to strike it off the Santos forward and put Rangers under undue pressure.

By now Rangers had resorted to the long ball approach. This nearly came to fruition on 20 minutes when Muscat hit a 60 yard pass down the right hand side for Flo. The Norwegian whipped in a good cross which was well defended but the clearance was met by DeBoer. He showed good skills skinning his opponent and laying it onto Flo only for him to miscontrol.

On 25 minutes Rangers received a fright when the Santos forward went down in the box and the referee whistled. The Santos player was booked for diving. This decision was 50/50 and had the Brazilians not been pulled up for diving a few times previously then they may very well have had a penalty.

Nonetheless they never had long to wait for their penalty. After a few fairly uneventful backwards and forwards Santos received a penalty kick on the 41 minute mark. It appeared that the Santos player jumped into Amoruso and fell down and the whistle happy referee pointed to the spot under Amoruso's protestations. The penalty was calmly slotted home to Klos's bottom right hand corner.

The final action of the half was some neat play from DeBoer who released Arveladze on the right only for him to put in a weak cross. Not that it mattered but Ranger had no-one in the box. Overall the first half was sloppy, disjointed and basically unacceptable.

Rangers returned for the second half having made three changes. Ross, Ricksen and Latapy replaced Muscat, Arteta and Flo. Rangers now lined up with a flat back four of Ross, Numan, Amoruso and Moore. The midfield had the diamond shape of Konterman, Ricksen, Ferguson and Latapy playing just behind the strikers.

Indiscipline began to creep into the play from the word go. Ferguson was booked on 48 minutes for a silly sliding challenge.

With Konterman removed from the defence it would hopefully be a stronger unit. However on 50 minutes Ross was nutmegged and the defence badly exposed. The Brazilian screwed the resultant shot wide. Throughout the game the whole Rangers team seemed reluctant to make any tackles, Ricksen and Amoruso being the exceptions.

Having slated Ricksen last week it has to be said he had a better game. Free from defensive responsibilities he played much forward going forward and even put it about in a sensible manner. His controlled aggression led to him winning his fair share of tackles.

Santos dominated today's proceedings, of that there can be no doubt. While many regard them as a spent force in Brazilian football I was impressed with them. They were strong and knew how to maintain possession, exactly the way you expect a Brazilian team too. Not much can be reported on the footballing side of things are Rangers created next to nothing and only came into the play when Santos eased off.

Indeed Rangers never had one shot on target all game and the Santos goalie went wholly untested. Rangers were very indisciplined in the tackle and Ferguson can count himself lucky not to have walked on 63 minutes when he lunged in again. The ref reached for his card then changed his mind when he saw who it was.

This signalled changes in 65 minutes when Hughes, Mols and Dodds replaced De Boer, Arveladze and Ferguson. Moore took over the captaincy. Rangers began a good ten minute spell with both Latapy and Mols displaying good skills. Twice Mols was a joy to watch as he performed his trademark turns, reminiscent of pre-Munich. After one such turn on 74 minutes he passed to Dodds only for him to trip over the ball. Rangers final chance came when Latapy was released on the left by Amoruso. The dreadlocked Trinidadian showed some excellent skill to beat his marker and cross the ball. Ricksen tried to meet the cross but was unlucky to be repelled by the Santos defender. The game was then played out with nothing positive from either side. Malcolm replaced Moore for the last ten minutes.

This was one of the most unsatisfactory games I've watched. It harked back to Rangers under the last days of Advocaat. While it was only a pre-season friendly to not have one shot on target is not good enough. Linkage between the midfield and attack needs to improved. More width is also needed and the misjudgments in tackling needs to be stamped out.

Hopefully we'll see improvements in the coming glamour friendlies on our own shores.