ANDREW VORCE - Thursday, August 4, 2011
Maurice Edu and Rangers crashed out of the Champions League in the Third Round of qualifying after only being able to draw away at Malmo FF.
Malmö FF 1 - 1 Rangers
Rangers went into the game knowing only a win would do having lost their first encounter with the Swedish club at Ibrox. Gers were dealt a blow in the lead up to the game with Romanian defender Dorin Goian going down with a hamstring injury. With captain David Weir already out of the mix due to injury, Sasa Papac was the go to player ready to occupy the center back role.
Having already lost players their starting line up twice in the opening weeks of the season, they suffered another hit just 18 minutes into the most important game Ally McCoist has played thus far when Steven Whittaker was shown a straight red card for an act of petulance. The defender was cut down from behind by Jimmy Durmaz and Whittaker reacted by throwing the ball at Durmaz, forcing the referee to produce a red card.
Against the odds Rangers got the goal they desperately needed just five minutes later. Edu showed his qualities as he picked his head up to play a glorious ball over the Malmo defense for Nikica Jelavic to run on to. Wasting no time the front man side footed his effort first time out of the air around Dusan Melicharek.
Edu almost fell victim to Durmaz play acting, throwing himself to the ground yet again after the American stripped the ball, claiming to be caught by a flailing arm. The half ended on a feisty note as Lee McCulloch retaliated against Durmaz by putting in a very hard tackle on the Malmo player. After falling to the ground Durmaz kicked out at McCulloch but the retaliation did not even earn the player a yellow card.
In the 66th minute Rangers were reduced to nine men as Madjid Bougherra was shown a straight red after leading with his elbow in a header against Dardan Rexhepi.
Just seven minutes later Malmo were themselves reduced to ten men as Ricardinho picked up his second yellow card after taking down a Rangers player. Rangers were unable to take the reduction in numbers in their favor and ultimately conceded the costly goal with just ten minutes to play.
Malmo FF showed their class after a succession of beautiful link ups as Jiloan Hamad received the ball 18 yards out after a chest trap from his teammate fell kindly to him. Taking time to steady himself, the Swedish international volleyed home an unstoppable goal, leaving Allan McGregor clutching at thin air.
Pontus Jansson is the only other Malmo player who picked up a booking, as Steven Naismith, Edu, and Papac joined McCulloch in the book with yellow cards.
Rangers will now be forced to scrap it out in the Europa League, where they will find out their opponents on Friday, and next play Chelsea on Saturday in a Friendly Match at Ibrox.
Freddy Adu did not suit up for Benfica who drew 1-1 at Trabzonspor, winning 3-1 on aggregate to advance into the next round.