Maurice Edu went from Rangers FC hero to villain with a headed goal at both ends in a thrilling draw against Valencia CF.
The midfielder gave the Scottish titleholders a deserved lead after 34 minutes but undid his good work when he put through his own net 45 seconds into the second half. A point apiece leaves Rangers a point clear of Valencia in second place in Group C – the return at Mestalla in a fortnight could prove decisive.
Walter Smith again fielded the tried and trusted 4-5-1 formation that worked so well in previous UEFA Champions League encounters with Manchester United FC and Bursaspor. The compact Rangers defence was soon being tested as Valencia made a bright start with some neat interplay.
Alejandro Domínguez seized on a loose pass and struck a fierce shot which Allan McGregor did well to collect. The hosts were struggling to keep possession, allowing Pablo Hernández to work a one-two with Juan Mata but his work was undone by a wayward shot over the bar.
Rangers eventually gained a foothold and were left to rue a spate of missed chances in a frantic spell. Richard Foster's dangerous cross flew just too far ahead for Steven Naismith to properly connect, and barely a minute later Naismith centred for Kenny Miller at the back post but the striker headed straight at César Sánchez.
Rangers continued to bamboozle their opponents with quick passing complemented by the raucous atmosphere at Ibrox. Saša Papac almost lifted the roof off when his long-range shot was tipped over by Sánchez. At the other end Mata embarked on a mazy run through a wall of blue and crossed to the far post where David Navarro headed just wide.
Edu showed more accuracy when he out-jumped Sánchez to head Vladimír Weiss' corner beyond Sánchez. The United States international was unlucky not to double Rangers' lead on the stroke of half-time when he sent a fierce shot crashing off the foot of the post. That disappointment was nothing compared to moments after the restart when he contrived to head Tino Costa's free-kick past McGregor.
Unai Emery's visitors laid siege to the Rangers goal with a series of dangerous crosses tormenting the defence, and should have gone ahead when Mata ran onto a Hernández cut-back only to drill just over. The closing stages made for compelling viewing but both teams had to settle for a point in the end.
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