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Resilient Rangers set up Florence decider

Published: Friday 25 April 2008, 0.50CET
Rangers FC 0-0 ACF Fiorentina
The hosts overcame early nerves to leave this UEFA Cup semi-final finely poised ahead of the second leg.
by Barry Johnston
from Ibrox

Match statistics

RangersFiorentina

Goals scored0
 
0
Attempts on target0
3
Attempts off target5
 
4
Corners2
 
3
Offsides1
 
3
Fouls committed20
 
22
Yellow cards0
3
Red cards0
 
0

Standings

 
Published: Friday 25 April 2008, 0.50CET

Resilient Rangers set up Florence decider

Rangers FC 0-0 ACF Fiorentina
The hosts overcame early nerves to leave this UEFA Cup semi-final finely poised ahead of the second leg.

Rangers FC overcame early nerves to secure a goalless first-leg draw against ACF Fiorentina at Ibrox and leave the UEFA Cup semi-final wide open ahead of next Thursday's return in Florence.

Tension
With a place in May's final at stake, tonight always promised to be a tense affair, and so it proved in a match in which scoring chances were at a premium as prudence overcame attacking instincts. The Viola started brightly and Rangers were indebted to Carlos Cuéllar early on, though the hosts came on strong after half-time and both sides will have been satisfied with their evening's work.

Cautious hosts
Rangers' UEFA Cup campaign has been built on solid defensive foundations and, despite a personnel reshuffle forced by a plague of injuries and suspensions, manager Walter Smith opted to stick with his tried and tested 4-1-4-1 system. Determined to avoid conceding a potentially fatal away goal, the hosts made their intent clear from the outset, refusing to commit too much in attack as they attempted to smother Fiorentina's formidable strikeforce with sheer numbers.

Viola control
The Tuscan visitors accepted the invitation to pour forward and, on eight minutes, measured the range of their artillery with Martin Jørgensen's hopeful 30-metre drive flying over the crossbar. That was merely a warning, however, and five minutes later the Serie A side gave a far sterner test to their hosts. Zdravko Kuzmanović headed the ball square, five metres out, finding Giampaolo Pazzini who was only denied by a last-ditch tackle from Cuéllar.

Rangers counter
The home side absorbed the early pressure and, midway through the first period, they launched their first meaningful foray deep into opposition territory. Jean-Claude Darcheville is known as The Rocket among Rangers fans, and lived up to his title by jetting past Jørgensen on the left wing before reaching the byline. However, the former FC Girondins de Bordeaux striker was unable to shake off the attention of Viola captain, Tomáš Ujfaluši – who overcame a thigh strain to start in central defence – and the chance went begging.

Unbreakable deadlock
The balance of the match swung in Rangers' favour at the start of the second half as the noise from appreciative fans packed inside Ibrox became deafening. Still, genuine opportunities were at a premium as Fiorentina's disciplined defence, marshalled superbly by Ujfaluši, withstood the pressure. Rangers introduced the creative Thomas Buffel in a bid to find the killer pass to unlock the visitors, with Daniel Cousin also coming off the bench, but neither managed to dent Fiorentina's impenetrable back four.

Dead-ball hope
Cesare Prandelli's men have made a habit of scoring away from home in this year's competition, but were restricted to set-pieces as they attempted to wrest control from Rangers. Adrian Mutu, whose exquisite free-kick against PSV Eindhoven in the previous round helped secure a 2-0 victory, had two similar opportunities late in the match but neither troubled Rangers' back-up goalkeeper Neil Alexander, and there is all to play for at the Stadio Artemio Franchi next week.

Last updated: 25/04/08 9.57CET

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http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/season=2008/matches/round=15123/match=301972/postmatch/report/index.html#resilient+rangers+florence+decider

Lineups

rangers

Rangers

fiorentina

Fiorentina

13
N. AlexanderNeil Alexander (GK)
1
FreySébastien Frey (GK)
3
WeirDavid Weir (C)
5
GamberiniAlessandro Gamberini
Yellow Card78
5
PapacSaša Papac
10
MutuAdrian Mutu
7
HemdaniBrahim Hemdani
11
LiveraniFabio Liverani
10
NovoNacho Novo
Substitution59
18
MontolivoRiccardo Montolivo
19
DarchevilleJean-Claude Darcheville
Substitution60
19
GobbiMassimo Gobbi
Yellow Card83
21
BroadfootKirk Broadfoot
20
JørgensenMartin Jørgensen
24
CuéllarCarlos Cuéllar
21
UjfalušiTomáš Ujfaluši (C)
28
WhittakerSteven Whittaker
22
KuzmanovićZdravko Kuzmanović
30
DaillyChristian Dailly
24
SantanaMario Santana
Yellow Card22
35
DavisSteven Davis
29
PazziniGiampaolo Pazzini
Substitution81

Substitutes

16
SmithGraeme Smith (GK)
25
AvramovVlada Avramov (GK)
4
BuffelThomas Buffel
Substitution59
2
KrøldrupPer Krøldrup
9
BoydKris Boyd
3
DainelliDario Dainelli
15
GowAlan Gow
6
PotenzaAlessandro Potenza
22
WebsterAndy Webster
9
Osvaldo Pablo Osvaldo
29
CousinDaniel Cousin
Substitution60
23
PasqualManuel Pasqual
39
FayeAmdy Faye
32
VieriChristian Vieri
Substitution81

Coach

Walter Smith (SCO) Cesare Prandelli (ITA)

Referee

Kyros Vassaras (GRE)

Assistant referees

Dimitrios Bozatzidis (GRE), Dimitrios Saraidaris (GRE)

Fourth official

Dimitrios Kalopoulos (GRE)

Legend:

  • GoalsGoals
  • Own goalOwn goal
  • PenaltiesPenalties
  • Missed PenaltiesMissed Penalties
  • reds_cardRed Cards
  • yellow_cardsYellow cards
  • yellow_red_cardsYellow/red card
  • SubstitutionSubstitution
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