VfB Stuttgart forward Cacau pinpointed his side's failure to turn first-half dominance into goals after Rangers FC fought back to earn a draw in the teams' UEFA Champions League Group G opener.
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VfB Stuttgart forward Cacau pinpointed his side's failure to turn first-half dominance into goals after Rangers FC fought back to earn a 1-1 draw in the teams' UEFA Champions League Group G opener on Wednesday.
The hosts took a deserved lead at the VfB Arena when Pavel Pogrebnyak applied a confident finish to Cacau's cross in the 18th minute. Stuttgart continued to take the game to their visitors throughout the opening period, but could not increase their tally and were pegged back after the break. A spirited response from the Scottish champions resulted in Madjid Bougherra's 77th-minute equaliser and a share of the spoils.
Despite his own impressive contribution of tireless work rate and regular threat on goal, German international Cacau bemoaned the chances that slipped by. "We should have scored a second in the first half," said the 28-year-old Brazilian-born player. "We invited pressure purely because the score stayed at 1-0 for so long. It's very frustrating."
That feeling was in marked contrast to the mood in the Rangers camp, where Bougherra revealed that manager Walter Smith helped the team refocus during the interval. "We knew what we had to do in the second half. The gaffer told us to stay calm and keep the ball and then we managed to play some good football." Indeed, the Glasgow outfit looked a different proposition after the restart and could even have snatched victory, though Bougherra was satisfied with a point: "We want to try and win our home games while picking up as many away points as possible, so a point here is good," said the Algerian international centre-back.
Steven Davis struck a post for Rangers late on, shortly after Steven Naismith was foiled by Stuttgart goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, although Naismith refused to fret about what might have been. "It was unfortunate with the late chance," the attacker said. "I skidded on the grass and the keeper made the save but we have to take the positives. We proved we can hack it at this level against a very experienced, decent team with good players."
If Rangers see the result as a point gained, Stuttgart will consider it two dropped as they attempt to reach the first knockout round for the first time since 2003/4. Nevertheless, Stuttgart defender Sami Khedira remained upbeat about their prospects, saying: "If you're dominating a team like we were, then you have to finish them off. We would have liked to have started with a win, but I don't want to be too critical of our performance. We still believe in ourselves."