Rangers FC got their Group H campaign off to a winning start with an exhilarating 3-2 success against 2004 UEFA Champions League winners FC Porto in Glasgow.
Portuguese defender Pepe appeared to have given Porto a share of the spoils with two goals after Peter Løvenkrands and Dado Pršo had twice put the home side ahead, but Sotirios Kyrgiakos gave Rangers maximum points with a headed goal five minutes from time.
After a disappointing 1-1 draw with Falkirk FC at the weekend, Rangers manager Alex McLeish made three changes: former Newcastle United FC left-back Olivier Bernard made his debut, Francis Jeffers started for the first time since his loan move from Charlton Athletic FC, and Løvenkrands began on the left of midfield. Porto coach Co Adriaanse kept faith with his favoured 4-3-3 formation, and it was the visitors who were the quicker into their stride.
Brazilian forwards Alan and Jorginho threatened in the first five minutes with the latter forcing goalkeeper Ronald Waterreus to punch a corner off his line. The home team initially struggled for possession as Diego dictated the tempo for the visitors, although Jeffers almost opened the scoring on 14 minutes when he collected a Løvenkrands cross, only for a heavy first touch to allow Porto captain Pedro Emanuel to clear the danger.
At the other end, Ricardo Costa passed up another good opportunity after he got on the end of César Peixoto's left-wing centre, the full-back lifting his shot wastefully over. Alan went close again on 21 minutes, drifting past two defenders before firing in a shot that required a last-minute block to divert the ball for a corner. Pršo was then presented with a chance after Porto goalkeeper Vítor Baía misjudged a clearance, but the Croatian was unable to capitalise.
Jorginho seemed certain to break the deadlock just before the half-hour when he surged into the box only to be denied by a well-judged challenge from Waterreus. Ten minutes before half-time, a goal did arrive – and, against the run of play, it was Rangers that registered. Løvenkrands reacted quickest to a long ball from Fernando Ricksen and kept his head to fire past Vítor Baía. Porto suffered another blow before the break when Emanuel was substituted following a clash of heads with Pršo.
The goal seemed to settle the hosts but they found themselves pegged back two minutes into the second half. Hamed Namouchi conceded a corner and when the ball was swung in, Pepe rose highest to head past Waterreus. The visitors should have been ahead six minutes later when Tomislav Šokota pounced on a loose ball but again the Dutch keeper smothered his effort. Instead Rangers broke to the other end and promptly regained their advantage. Ricksen crossed from the right, Kyrgiakos and Namouchi combined to turn the ball back across goal and Pršo bundled it over the line.
Adriaanse made a double substitution as the game entered the final quarter and one of the replacements, Ricardo Quaresma, almost scored after a defensive mix-up from a corner. It was a warning Rangers failed to heed and with 19 minutes remaining, Pepe capitalised on more hesitant defending to usher the ball into the net. Just as it seemed both sides would have to settle for one point, however, Kyrgiakos's clever back-header evaded Vítor Baía and finally settled an eventful encounter in the home team's favour.