Football

Gers Euro dream in balance

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Rangers' Champions League hopes were left hanging in the balance after they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Swedish outfit Malmo at Ibrox.

Daniel Larsson grabbed the only goal of the first leg of the third qualifying round tie, leaving the Scottish champions with a major hurdle to overcome in next week's away leg.

It was another frustrating encounter for Ally McCoist, with the new Rangers manager still to secure his first competitive victory at the Light Blues helm.

The Gers almost suffered the worst possible start to the tie when Larsson raced past Madjid Bougherra and tried his luck with a shot in the opening minute of the game that trundled across the gaping goal and wide of target.

Rangers failed to heed the warning signs and the Swedes surged into the lead after 18 minutes. The move began when Steven Whittaker was robbed of possession by Jimmy Durmaz and the ball was eventually laid on by Wilton Figueiredo to Larsson, who rifled an unstoppable drive past the grasp of Allan McGregor.

The hosts made their first change with just half an hour gone when David Weir was replaced by Juan Manuel Ortiz , with Sasa Papac moving into the centre-half position vacated by the captain and Lee Wallace dropping back to left-back.

Rangers emerged for the second half eager to haul themselves back into the tie but it was Malmo who almost had the net bulging again just a few minutes after the restart.

Papac was cautioned for tripping Larsson before Figueiredo's curling free-kick was tipped one-handed over the crossbar by a full-stretch McGregor. Agon Mehmeti then sent a header flashing narrowly wide of the upright from the corner.

Rangers should have been back on level terms when Nikica Jelavic whipped a tempting ball into the path of Steven Naismith, who should have buried the shot from close range, but he connected on his weaker foot and mis-kicked wide instead.

That proved their best opportunity and, in the end, the home side were left thanking another McGregor save otherwise they would have been heading to Sweden with even bigger task.

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Topics:
European News
Football
UEFA Champions League
Madjid Bougherra

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