Rangers' hopes hit by early goal


Rangers 0 Auxerre 2: Rangers followed Celtic out of Europe as events at Ibrox and in Austria last night conspired to leave the Old Firm with only domestic duties for the rest of the season.

Defeat at the hands of Auxerre, coupled with Grazer AK's victory over AZ Alkmaar, ensured the Glasgow rivals have suffered the same fate. Alex McLeish and his players went into this tie with high hopes only to have them cruelly dashed by the latest Auxerre team fashioned by the wily Guy Roux. If it was the home team's intention to set their stall out for the one point they needed their plans were ripped up after just 10 minutes when the French side went ahead.

It was a classic counter-attack from Auxerre as Benjani Mwaruwari sped down the right, after Rangers had made a meal of a corner in their favour, and sent in a cross that was missed by Zurab Khizanishvili but not by Bonaventure Kalou. Although the striker's first effort hit the bar it fell kindly for him to tap home the rebound.

Rangers had a penalty claim for handball against Rene Bolf dismissed, although it would have been a harsh decision by the referee to have awarded a spot-kick.

That initial good work counted for nothing, though, when Kalou struck and for a spell the shell-shocked home players lost their way entirely. They even made an early tactical change as Fernando Ricksen moved to right-back with the hapless Khizanishvili pushed into midfield.

Khizanishvili's unhappy night continued with a poor header that was seized on by Kanga Akale, who supplied Kalou. Although the striker's shot was weak it was accurate and crept beyond Klos into the corner to seal the game on 47 minutes.

RANGERS: Klos, Khizanishvili (Hutton 54.00), Andrews, Boumsong, Vignal, Namouchi (Alex Rae 79.00), Ricksen, Malcolm, Arveladze, Novo, Prso. Subs Not Used: Graeme Smith, Moore, Mladenovic, Ball, Ross. Booked: Vignal.

AUXERRE: Cool, Sagna (Jaures 81.00), Bolf, Mignot, Grichting, Violeau, Cheyrou, Tainio (Gonzales 79.00), Kalou, Akale, Mwaruwari. Subs Not Used: Chabert, Pieroni, Vandenbosshe, Recorbet, Coulibaly. Booked: Cheyrou. Goals: Kalou 10, 47.

Referee: Franz Xaver Wack (Germany).