Rangers 0 Malmo 1
Updated Wednesday, 27th July 2011
Not the result wanted by Ally McCoist
Rangers almost suffered the worst possible start to the tie when Larsson raced past Madjid Bougherra and tried his luck with a shot in the opening minute of the game that trundled across the gaping goal and wide of target. Malmo were still looking dangerous and Allan McGregor was called into action to block a ferocious shot from the right flank from Wilton Figueiredo, before Jimmy Durmaz blasted the rebound past the post.Rangers failed to heed the warning signs and the Swedes surged into the lead after 18 minutes. The move began when Steven Whittaker was robbed of possession by Durmaz and the ball was eventually laid on by Figueiredo to Larsson, who rifled an unstoppable drive past the grasp of McGregor. Rangers made their first change with just half an hour gone when Weir was replaced by Ortiz, with Sasa Papac moving into the centre-half position vacated by the captain and Wallace dropping back to left-back. Figueiredo then picked up the first booking of the game for handball and Steven Davis saw his resultant free-kick palmed to safety by goalkeeper Dusan Melicharek as Rangers headed into the interval to the sound of jeers from the crowd.
The mood was lifted at half-time when new signing Dorin Goian - unable to play in tonight's game as he awaits a work permit and international clearance - was introduced to the crowd to enthusiastic applause during the break. Rangers emerged for the second half eager to haul themselves back into the tie but it was Malmo who almost had the net bulging again just a few minutes after the restart. Papac was cautioned for tripping Larsson before Figueiredo's curling free-kick was tipped one-handed over the crossbar by a full-stretch McGregor. Agon Mehmeti then sent a header flashing narrowly wide of the upright from the corner. Lee McCulloch was not too far away with a deflected shot from distance but McGregor was forced to come to Rangers' rescue again when he denied Figueiredo, who was allowed to run unchallenged before unleashing the shot. The goalkeeper was also alert to block a free header from Daniel Andersson. Rangers should have been back on level terms when Nikica Jelavic whipped a tempting ball into the path of Steven Naismith, who should have buried the shot from close range, but he connected on his weaker foot and mis-kicked wide instead. Naismith had the chance to make amends just moments later in what was a carbon copy of the previous move and, unfortunately for him, the finish was just as poor the second time around. It was proving to be a busy night for McGregor who did well to block from Jiloam Hamad in the final minutes and keep his side's hopes of progression alive for now.
Rangers: McGregor, Weir (Ortiz 29), Papac, Bougherra, McCulloch, Edu, Davis, Wallace, Whittaker, Jelavic, Naismith
Subs not used: Alexander, Broadfoot, Wylde, Hemmings, Fleck, Healy
Yellow cards: Papac, Wallace
Malmo: Melicharek, Andersson, Halsti, Hamad, Jansson, Mutavdzic, Mehmeti (Nazari 54), Durmaz, Pekalski, Larsson (Yago 81), Figueiredo (Rexhepi 69)
Subs not used: Garaca, Malm, Aubynn, Nazari
Yellow card: Figueiredo