Rangers FC enjoyed a memorable night in Tuscany as they registered an impressive win over AS Livorno Calcio in their UEFA Cup Group A opener.
A first for Scotland
Paul Le Guen's men produced a classy display with three goals in the first half to record the first-ever triumph by a Scottish club on Italian soil. In driving rain at the Stadio Armando Picchi, Charlie Adam opened the scoring in the 27th minute before Kris Boyd doubled the lead three minutes later from the penalty spot.
Burst of goals
Livorno striker Cristiano Lucarelli reduced the deficit with another spot-kick shortly after the half-hour but Le Guen's decision to start Nacho Novo in place of Dado Pršo paid dividends as the Spaniard scored Rangers' third ten minutes before the break - concluding a burst of four goals in little more than eight minutes. Lucarelli gave Livorno a lifeline with his second goal of the night in the 90th minute but an equaliser was beyond them.
Rangers certainly started brightly and could have scored in the 12th minute after Novo's dangerous pass from the right found an unmarked Boyd, but his weak header was easy for goalkeeper Marco Amelia. Shortly after, Adam's long-distance shot fizzed wide of the near post as the Glasgow side moved closer to breaking the deadlock. The young midfielder was just finding his range, however, and in the 27th minute his low left-foot shot from outside the box gave the visitors the lead.
Three minutes later, Rangers doubled their advantage as Boyd struck from the penalty spot after Samuel Kuffour brought down Novo. Stunned Livorno pulled a goal back with a penalty of their own from Lucarelli after referee Julián Rodríguez Santiago ruled that Julien Rodriguez had tugged the shirt of Luca Vigiani.
Novo restores advantage
Ten minutes before half-time, however, Novo restored Rangers' two-goal lead with a fine right-footed effort from outside the area. Rangers could have scored another goal but Boyd's 38th-minute header from Adam's cross went centimetres over. With a minute remaining, Livorno substitute Ibrahima Bakayoko saw a shot blocked by Letizi - but only as far as Lucarelli, who scored to give Livorno hope, but it was Rangers who nearly struck again with Filip Sebo hitting the crossbar in added time.