Rangers recorded arguably the best European result in their history by thrashing French giants Lyon in their own back yard in Champions League Group E. Walter Smith's side took a giant step towards qualifying for the tournament's knockout stages with tonight's stunning win, and now have six points out of a possible six points following their first-day success against Stuttgart. Rangers held on to a clean sheet and are now clear at the top of the group table with Spanish giants Barcelona. Lee McCulloch opened the scoring in the 23rd minute with a powerful header from DaMarcus Beasley's corner, and there was better to come in the second half. Daniel Cousin made it 2-0 with a drilled finish just after the break - and the striker set up Beasley for the third goal with a superb crossfield ball. The French side, who lost their opener against Barcelona 3-0, are already close to elimination after just two games. They hit the woodwork three times - twice through Juninho - but it was not their night, and they lacked the creativity to seriously threaten a Rangers rearguard superbly marshalled by Carlos Cuellar and David Weir.
It was backs-to-the-wall stuff for the Light Blues for most of the game but they coped very comfortably, with Lyon dominating possession but lacking creativity. Juninho led a one-man crusade on the Rangers goal, especially in the opening 45 minutes when his free-kicks inched closer and closer to the target, but goalkeeper Allan McGregor was rarely worried. The Brazilian was ubiquitous early on, and his third-minute piledriver was blocked by Rangers anchorman Brahim Hemdani. Former Liverpool and Aston Villa striker Milan Baros had a shot blocked before Cousin - isolated in his lone striker's role - had a left-foot effort in the 13th minute repelled. It was against the run of play that Rangers notched their first goal. Right-back Alan Hutton forced a corner out of Kim Kallstrom and from the resulting set-piece taken by Beasley, McCulloch found space to powerfully head home from near the penalty spot. The goal stunned the majority of the Stade Gerland crowd and Juninho took it upon himself to find the equaliser. His first free-kick of the night went narrowly over, and his next moments later was palmed out by McGregor - with Sebastien Squillaci prodding the rebound weakly wide. The dead-ball doyen came closer on the stroke of half-time, his curling free-kick from 20 yards hitting the bar and rebounding out.
Rangers breathed again, but were celebrating going 2-0 ahead three minutes after the restart. Cousin, signed from Lyon's Ligue 1 rivals Lens in the summer, received the ball just inside the area to the right of goal, turned his marker and crashed a powerful effort in at Remy Vercoutre's near post from 10 yards. The army of Rangers fans, who made up a significant portion of the 38,076 crowd, were jubilant - and they had further reason to cheer two minutes later. Cousin, with a superb 40-yard ball, found Beasley charging through the middle in space - and the American controlled before calmly finishing to the left of Vercoutre. It looked as if the goalkeeper made the wrong decision not to come out and meet the winger but Rangers did not really care. Whistles from the home fans greeted the concession of the third goal, and Lyon's Alain Perrin - once Portsmouth's boss - chose to bring Hatem Ben Arfa and Kader Keita on for Bodmer and Baros. But it mattered little, their Champions League hopes for another year had basically disappeared. Rangers were non-existent as an attacking force after their third goal, Cousin coming off just after the hour mark to be replaced by Steven Whittaker. On the 70-minute mark, Juninho hit the woodwork for a second time - crashing a low, left-foot effort against McGregor's post, while Kallstrom and Sidney Govou flashed shots wide. A miserable night for the hosts was completed in the 84th minute when Anderson headed against the woodwork - the third time Lyon had done so in the game - signifying it was definitely not their night.
Lyon: Vercoutre, Reveillere (Clerc 81), Squillaci, Anderson, Grosso, Juninho, Bodmer (Ben Arfa 60), Kallstrom, Govou, Baros (Keita 60), Benzema.
Subs Not Used: Roux, Belhadj, Fabio Santos, Toulalan
Booked: Squillaci, Reveillere|
Rangers: McGregor, Hutton, Cuellar, Weir, Papac, Hemdani, Beasley (Adam 90), Ferguson, Thomson, McCulloch (Novo 80), Cousin (Whittaker 66)
Subs Not Used: Carroll, Boyd, Naismith, Faye
Booked: Weir, Ferguson, Thomson
Goals: McCulloch 23, Cousin 48, Beasley 53
Ref: Tom Ovrebo (Norway)