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PSV smell danger as Rangers visit stirs memories

Rangers FC ended their hosts' 29-game unbeaten home run when they first visited PSV Eindhoven in 1978, with Bobby Russell's late winner greeted with the words: "Well done, smelly."

Rangers' class of 1978/79: Gordon Smith, Alex Miller, Sandy Jardine, Bobby Russell, Alex Forsyth and Alex MacDonald
Rangers' class of 1978/79: Gordon Smith, Alex Miller, Sandy Jardine, Bobby Russell, Alex Forsyth and Alex MacDonald ©Getty Images

PSV Eindhoven have reason for caution as they host Rangers FC for a third time in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 this week. The Light Blues have prevailed on both of their previous visits, with the first of those victories, in a European Champion Clubs' Cup second-round tie on 1 November 1978, handing PSV a first defeat in 30 UEFA competition home games.

John Greig's side may have thought their luck was out after a goalless home leg, especially when Harry Lubse scored within 34 seconds of the kick-off in the return. Alex McDonald levelled after 57 minutes, however, and although Gerrie Deijkers put PSV back in front, Derek Johnstone equalised again after 75 minutes. Midfielder Bobby Russell then made sure with three minutes remaining by scoring what many Rangers fans consider one of the club's finest goals in Europe, curling the ball round the onrushing goalkeeper after a flowing passing move.

"It was one of those situations where a manager would have been tearing his hair out," Russell told UEFA.com. "Normally at 2-2 you would just sit back, defend for your life and hope to go through on away goals. But we managed to break down one of their moves and a couple of passes later I was through on goal. It was a good passing move involving Gordon Smith and Tommy McLean and I was delighted to see the ball go into the corner of the net."

Russell's goal invited an unusual comment from a team-mate. "For some reason my luggage didn't arrive in Eindhoven so I only had the clothes I was travelling in and when I scored, Alex McDonald shouted: 'Well done, smelly!'. It was only when we got home and people were waiting for us at the airport that it started to sink in that we had created a bit of history."

Defeat was a major shock for PSV, who had beaten SC Bastia to win the 1977/78 UEFA Cup, and then put six past Fenerbahçe SK in their first European home game of 1978/79. "We did not expect to get knocked out by Rangers at all," midfielder René van de Kerkhof told UEFA.com. "If you draw away, then normally you just finish the job at home."

Van de Kerkhof, who played alongside twin brother Willy in PSV's great 1970s team, added: "The season before we had won everything possible – the title, the Dutch Cup and the UEFA Cup, and we had five or six players who had been runners-up at the FIFA World Cup in Argentina with the Netherlands. It was a beautiful period under coach Kees Rijvers.

"We had all been together for a long time," he added. "My brother and I joined from Twente in 1973. We had our first success with the 1974 championship, followed by 1975 and 1978. The team just stayed together, with only one or two players joining per season. We had some top players: Willy van der Kuylen, Jan van Beveren, the two of us. We complemented each other and understood each other perfectly, there was a real unity. The team featured a lot of local boys with only a few foreign players."

Van de Kerkhof – who still attends every home game – is aware that PSV have not beaten Scottish opposition in six previous attempts but has his fingers crossed for Fred Rutten's men. "Later we lost at home against Dundee United [FC, 2-0 in 1982] while PSV lost again to Rangers in the UEFA Champions League [1-0 in 1999]," he recalled. "Scottish opponents don't suit us, especially Rangers, but there's a Dutch saying 'Drie maal is scheepsrecht' (third time lucky), so we should be OK this time."