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Villarreal and Rangers defy odds

Published: Sunday 26 February 2006, 1.00CET
Against all pre-season expection, a place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League beckons for either Villarreal CF or Rangers FC at El Madrigal.
Published: Sunday 26 February 2006, 1.00CET

Villarreal and Rangers defy odds

Against all pre-season expection, a place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League beckons for either Villarreal CF or Rangers FC at El Madrigal.

Against all pre-season expectation, a place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League beckons for either Villarreal CF or Rangers FC and there is little to separate them after the first leg of their first knockout round tie ended 2-2.

Away draw
• It was the Spanish side who finished the first game the happier as they anticipated making home advantage count in the return. Yet for long spells at Ibrox they must have thought they would be returning home with a victory, having led through Juan Román Riquelme's early penalty and - after Peter Løvenkrands' first equaliser - again following Diego Forlán's goal.

Own-goal equaliser
• An own goal by Juan Manuel Peña then salvaged a draw for the Scottish champions. It was Dado Pršo who had handled in the area to present Villarreal their penalty but the Croatia striker will be missing for the El Madrigal game having been booked for the third time in the competition.

Dream adventure
• It has been a dream adventure for Villarreal in their first UEFA Champions League campaign, first emerging as surprise winners of Group D which concluded with Manchester United FC at the bottom of the pile. Villarreal carved out two 0-0 draws with Sir Alex Ferguson's team and remained unbeaten through all six games. It was an achievement built on an obdurate defence with just a single goal conceded.

• Their most significant results were the 1-0 victory against SL Benfica in Lisbon that ultimately meant they finished above the home team who ended runners-up, and the 1-0 win at home to LOSC Lille Métropole on Matchday 6 which clinched first place.

Celtic beaten
• Prior to Matchday 7, the Spanish team had only met Scottish opposition once before – in the 2003/04 UEFA Cup quarter-final when they followed a 1-1 draw away to Celtic FC with a 2-0 home victory. Having started in the UEFA Intertoto Cup their journey lasted 18 matches before tasting defeat in the semi-finals against eventual winners Valencia CF. The following season they reached the quarter-finals of the same competition having again emerged as UEFA Intertoto Cup winners.

Managerial vacancy
• It has been widely reported that Rangers will make an announcement after this game concerning the appointment of their new manager with the club having confirmed that Alex McLeish will be leaving his post at the end of the season. Their progress to this stage – the first time a Scottish side has gone so far in the UEFA Champions League - is remarkable given that the conclusion to their Group H campaign was played out against so much uncertainty over the manager's position.

Grim prospects
• When they trailed FC Porto by a single goal on Matchday 5 with just seven minutes remaining in the Estádio do Dragão, few would have wagered much on their qualifying chances. UEFA Champions League debutant Ross McCormack came to the rescue with a dramatic equaliser and another gritty performance in their final game, when Løvenkrands swiftly cancelled out FC Internazionale Milano's opening goal, earned the Scottish champions a precious point.

• It was enough to claim the runners-up place behind Inter with FC Artmedia and Porto slugging out a 0-0 stalemate in Slovakia - the seven points Rangers achieved the joint-lowest total for a qualifying team since three points for a win was introduced in 1995/96. In their UEFA Champions League away games, Rangers have lost five and drawn three since winning 1-0 away to Monaco in the first group stage of the 2000/01 competition.

Record against Spanish opposition
• To continue their progress Rangers must improve on their results in Spain against clubs from that country with just a single draw providing comfort alongside five defeats.

• Their only respite came in the 1979/80 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup second round where they achieved a 1-1 draw against Valencia CF, the only time they have managed to score in those six games.

• Much more memorable for the Scottish visitors was the 1971/72 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final at Camp Nou, Barcelona, when they defeated FC Dinamo Moskva 3-2.

Knockout format
• Clubs play two matches against each other on a home and away basis, with the team scoring the greater aggregate of goals qualifying for the next round. In the event of both teams scoring the same number of goals, the team which scores more goals away qualifies. If this proves inconclusive, extra time of two periods of 15 minutes is played after the second match. If during extra time both teams score the same number of goals, the away goals count double (ie. the visiting team advances). If no goals are scored during extra time, the winner is decided by penalty kicks.

Last updated: 06/03/06 9.27CET

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