Rangers FC goalkeeper Allan McGregor is intrigued by the prospect of facing penalty-taking counterpart Dimitar Ivankov in the UEFA Champions League Group C encounter with Bursapor.
The 34-year-old Bulgarian is the regular spot-kick choice for the Turkish champions and has 43 goals to his name, thought to make him the most prolific custodian in European football history. However, Ivankov, who has not missed a penalty in five years, has not scored in continental action since an October 2002 UEFA Cup tie with PFC Levski Sofia at Brøndby IF, and McGregor hopes it stays that way during Wednesday's Ibrox fixture.
"I've never really experienced anything like that before," McGregor told UEFA.com. "It's something you only really see in penalty shoot-outs. Over the years there have been a few goalkeepers who have taken them, the boy [José Luis] Chilavert who used to play for Paraguay was pretty good at free-kicks and penalties. I wouldn't mind taking a penalty but I don't think the gaffer would be too happy. It will be an interesting experience if it happens."
Having kept a clean sheet to earn a priceless away point in the group opener at Manchester United FC – while Bursaspor were losing 4-0 to visitors Valencia CF – the 28-year-old Scottish international says it is vital his side capitalise by winning their first home game. That was something they singularly failed to achieve last season when Rangers lost all three group matches at Ibrox, including a surprise 4-1 defeat by Romanian champions FC Unirea Urziceni.
"Our home form was disappointing but I don't think we underestimated Unirea," McGregor insisted. "I just think it was one of those nights. If you remember, three of the four goals were deflections, but we definitely won't be underestimating Bursaspor. They're Turkish champions, have spent a bit of money during the summer, so they'll be a good test for us."
Like the rest of Rangers' players, McGregor was stung by criticism levelled at manager Walter Smith for playing three centre-backs at Old Trafford a fortnight ago, and the No1 hinted a more cautious approach may also be required at home if the Glasgow outfit are to realise their knockout stage ambition. "It's up to the gaffer to decide how he's going to approach it but obviously we do need to be careful against quality sides like Bursaspor," McGregor said.
We will need to watch what we're doing as we did against Man U and as we'll have to do against Valencia. We need to err on the side of caution but we also need to win the home games, so it will be a bit of both I suppose. We want to qualify and to do that we need to win our home games, starting with Bursapor."
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