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Rangers book top-level return

Published: Thursday 25 August 2005, 0.19CET
Rangers FC 2-0 Anorthosis Famagusta FC (agg: 4-1) Rangers complete a comfortable aggregate win against Cypriot rivals to reach group stage.
Published: Thursday 25 August 2005, 0.19CET

Rangers book top-level return

Rangers FC 2-0 Anorthosis Famagusta FC (agg: 4-1) Rangers complete a comfortable aggregate win against Cypriot rivals to reach group stage.

Rangers FC secured a return to the UEFA Champions League group stage with fine goals from Thomas Buffel and Dado Pršo giving the Scottish champions a 4-1 aggregate victory against Anorthosis Famagusta FC.

Ketsbaia threat
The Cypriot visitors, seeking to overturn the first-leg deficit, were quickly in their stride and their veteran captain Temur Ketsbaia almost levelled the tie in the 14th minute, striking the post with a long-range strike.

Pršo prominent
The home side's menace was coming from Croatian striker Pršo, who shot narrowly wide before sending a downward header bouncing over the bar from Barry Ferguson's free-kick after 30 minutes. He headed wide from another Ferguson free-kick minutes later before curling a shot wide as the Rangers pressure mounted.

Buffel brilliance
The breakthrough came from Buffel after 39 minutes. Fernando Ricksen, back in the side following suspension, played a ball that Nacho Novo flicked into the Belgian's path and he showed a fine turn of speed to leave challengers trailing before striking a left-foot shot over goalkeeper Antonis Georgallides.

Rangers pressure
Novo fired the first chance of the second half wide and the Italian striker should have scored in the 54th minute when Ricksen picked him out in the penalty area with a cross from the right but his header bounced over. Georgallides then made a fine block to deny Buffel as Rangers began to impose themselves.

Pršo strikes
The second goal duly arrived after 58 minutes with Pršo turning first Loukas Louka and then Georgios Xenedis before slotting past the exposed Georgallides for a superb solo effort.

Late changes
That killed off the tie and both sides made several changes in the closing stages. Steven Thompson, introduced in place of Pršo, came close twice in the closing minutes.

High hopes
Rangers had done enough, though, and they signaled their return to the European élite after a year's absence with an airing of the official UEFA Champions League theme at the final whistle. They await Thursday's draw with expectation while Anorthosis, after a fine run, console themselves with a place in the UEFA Cup first round.

Last updated: 25/08/05 1.05CET

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