Rangers FC had to settle for a 0-0 draw with Paris Saint-Germain FC in the first leg of their UEFA Cup third-round tie after they were reduced to ten-men.
The Scottish side had been doing their best to put PSG under pressure in the second half of an occasionally ill-tempered game at Ibrox stadium, when Fernando Ricksen was dismissed for a second yellow card after an off-the-ball clash with Argentinian defender Gabriel Heinze with ten minutes to go.
Rangers defend deep
As the clock ticked down, Rangers were forced to defend deep and were more concerned with keeping possession than trying to carve out a winning goal - a stark contrast to their performance in the opening period.
For this was a game that Rangers could and should have won. Strikers Tore André Flo and Claudio Caniggia were a constant menace to PSG but Dick Advocaat's side could not make use of their pressure and missed a couple of gilt-edged chances to take the lead.
Two free-kicks just outside the penalty box were missed by Ronald de Boer and Michael Ball, and the Dutchman should really have done better after 19 minutes. Caniggia broke through the PSG defence and, with a defender in close attendance, slipped an inviting pass across the penalty area for De Boer. However, with goalkeeper Lionel Letizi stranded, De Boer could only miscue his shot wide from five metres out.
Reyna goes close
Rangers carved out other chances but none better than that first one. Twice, Claudio Reyna found himself in space on the edge of the PSG penalty area after good work from his team-mates, and on both occasions - once in the 37th minute and once in the 55th - he managed to screw the ball wide of Letizi's post.
Despite excellent play in midfield from the Brazilian Ronaldinho and talented Spanish youngster Mikel Arteta, the Rangers' defence denied their visitors any clear scoring opportunities.
The closest they came to breaking the deadlock was after 66 minutes when Hugo Leal completed a neat one-two with Bartholomew Ogbeche before blasting a low shot at goal from the edge of the area which Rangers goalkeeper Stefan Klos did well to parry before smothering.
PSG in the driving seat
The advantage certainly lies with PSG as they begin their preparations for the second leg of the tie at the Parc des Princes stadium in a fortnight's time.
'It was a sending off'
Rangers manager Dick Advocaat had no complaints about the Swedish referee's decision to send Ricksen off. "It was a sending off," he told reporters. "That's all I want to say about it. Players must learn to control themselves."
However, despite the obvious disappointment of not building up a lead in Glasgow, the Dutchman has not abandoned hope of reaching the next round of the UEFA Cup. "The 0-0 result means that we will qualify with a score-draw in Paris and we are more than capable of getting the goals we need," he said. "Sometimes it can be easier to go forward in away games because the opposition has to come out and leave more space.
'Difficult to beat'
"PSG are very difficult to beat," he added. "We knew that already from watching them play in France. They have a lot of quality so 0-0 is not such a terrible result. When you play a team like that you have to take the chances that you are given and we missed three or four good opportunities."
'A very open contest'
Advocaat's opposite number Luis Fernandez was understandably pleased to leave Glasgow with a goalless draw. "I am very happy with the result and the performance," he said. "Obviously it would have been better to score but we can take confidence into the next leg. Both teams had opportunities but at the end 0-0 is a creditable result. Now it is a very delicate situation for us, as it is for Rangers. I think the game in Paris will be a very open contest."
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