Sevilla FC eased their way to victory and completed a miserable UEFA Champions League campaign for Rangers FC thanks to a first-half Frédéric Kanouté penalty which sealed the Spanish side's place in the first knockout round as Group G winners.
Kanouté coolly slotted in after just eight minutes, and the hosts were largely on top for the full 90 in a match played before passionate home fans and loyal travelling support. In fact, had it not been for a marvellous finger-tip save by Allan McGregor from Didier Zokora with ten minutes remaining, the margin would deservedly have been greater still.
Although the Scottish titleholders started with gusto the group leaders quickly established the status quo. On his comeback from an elbow injury, Kanouté was soon hinting that the club's top scorer Luis Fabiano would not be missed, wreaking havoc in the opening stages. First he collected a long ball, controlling with admirable ease under pressure, and stuck out one of his long legs to clip the ball past McGregor only for Saša Papac hook clear on the goalline.
It was an immediate statement of intent from the 32-year-old striker who has such an impact on Manuel Jiménez's side's creative play. Once Kanouté had softened up the visitors he went for football's version of the knockout blow. What began as a clever break by Fernando Navarro ended with a spot-kick when the left-back's marauding run ended with a foul by Rangers counterpart Steven Whittaker after the Rangers defender had briefly won possession.
Kanouté strolled up and mischievously sent McGregor the wrong way at walking pace. Despite the enormous backing of their 2,500 travelling fans and an enthusiastic display of running and pressing from Walter Smith's men, the home side dominated possession without finding a second goal before the break. The closest they came was on 17 minutes, when Renato shot and McGregor fumbled wide.
Though Rangers came into the match unbeaten on their travels in the UEFA Champions League this season it is a more indicative statistic that they have not won outside Scotland since a 3-0 group-stage triumph at Olympique Lyonnais in 2007/08. In nine matches away to Spanish teams they had collected two draws and seven defeats.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, Sevilla remained firmly in control, but had only rare efforts by second-half substitutes Aldo Duscher and Álvaro Negredo to show for it. With time running out on their European season, Rangers finally threw all their resources forward and Nacho Novo, whose father played for Sevilla's local rivals Real Betis Balompié, had the best chance for the visitors. The substitute skewed his shot into the sidenetting, however, as Rangers' Group G campaign ended in the disappointment of a fourth defeat.