Rangers 1 Osasuna 1

Last updated : 08 March 2007 By Bluebill
A magnificent injury-time strike by Brahim Hemdani earned Rangers a scarcely-deserved draw in their UEFA Cup clash with Spanish side Osasuna at Ibrox. Hemdani curled a glorious shot into the top corner from 25 yards after Rangers had been outplayed for much of tonight's last-16 first leg tie. Much of the pre-game concern for Rangers had been the sharpness of Stefan Klos, who made only his fourth start in two years after knee and shoulder injuries in place of the suspended Allan McGregor. However, Klos kept the Gers in the game on a night when his team-mates looked clumsy in possession against hard-working and dangerous opponents. Raul Garcia headed the opener as Walter Smith's side struggled to defend crosses throughout a wet night at Ibrox. The home side went on to threaten only briefly, until Hemdani gave them hope out of the blue. But the Gers will have to complete the comeback in Pamplona next Wednesday without skipper Barry Ferguson, whose first-half booking sees him suspended.

The enthusiastic visiting fans were in their seats an hour before kick-off and their team were just as eager when the game kicked off. The Spanish side took the game to their hosts from the start and Klos soon had work to do. He easily held Juanlu's weak long-range effort and then caught Javier Cuellar's free header from a David Lopez free-kick. Rangers took 11 minutes to launch a decent attack but Alan Hutton's cross was slightly behind Kris Boyd, whose header drifted wide. Klos was getting Hutton to take the goal-kicks and he would not have thanked Ian Murray for a waist-high backpass which the German volleyed out for a throw. Such sloppy passing was symptomatic of Rangers' early play and the visitors were forcing them into countless errors with an energetic pressing game. And it was no surprise when they got their away goal in the 17th minute. Juanlu's inswinging cross from the right was glanced into the far corner by Garcia with Klos helpless. Chris Burke tried to inspire an immediate riposte with an excellent reverse pass but Hemdani failed to control. Burke looked dangerous for a spell and Juanlu and Garcia were booked for hacking him down, but another booking proved costly for the Gers. Ferguson equalled John Greig's club record 64 appearances in Europe but he may have to wait some time to break it. The midfielder - tasked with providing support to lone striker Boyd - was cautioned after Dutch referee Jan Wegereef adjudged he had raised an arm against Javad Nekunam. Osasuna were comfortable for the remainder of the half and another free-kick from the right caused problems for the hosts - but Cuellar failed to connect properly with his header.

Boyd had looked isolated up front against tough defenders Cuellar and Miguel Flano and Walter Smith brought on Nacho Novo for Charlie Adam at half-time to provide more support. But the visitors continued to frustrate Rangers and threatened to score a second goal. Inaki Munoz saw a long-range strike sail two yards over and Garcia headed over after his run into the box went unchecked. Klos rescued his side in the 61st minute with a superb one-handed stop from Juanlu. Lopez had found his fellow midfielder inside the box after Ugo Ehiogu had gifted Osasuna possession. Rangers came close moments later but the threat came via the knee of Cuellar, who deflected Novo's cross just over. Kevin Thomson had an excellent left-foot strike pushed wide by Ricardo from the subsequent corner before being replaced by Dado Prso as the Gers put three up front for the final quarter. The hosts stepped up a gear and Prso lifted the fans with some surging runs into the box. But their bright spell was short-lived and the home side's susceptibility to high balls almost cost them again when Ehiogu barged into his own keeper before Klos gathered at the second attempt. The German made another excellent save from a 15-yard shot by Munoz after Rangers again looked static at a cross ball. And the Spaniards appeared to be seeing out the win comfortably - until Hemdani's unlikely leveller.

Rangers: Klos, Weir, Ehiogu, Murray, Hutton, Thomson, Ferguson, Hemdani, Burke, Adam, Boyd
Subs: Robinson, Svensson, Rae, Prso, Novo, Sionko, Sebo

Goal: Hemdani 90

Osasuna: Ricardo, Izquierdo, Miguel Flano, Cuellar, Monreal, Raul Garcia, David Lopez, Juanlu, Munoz, Nekounam, Webo
Subs: Elia, Cruchaga, Josetxo, Javier Flano, Hector Font, Romeo, Juanfran

Goal: Raul Garcia 17

Referee: Jan Wegereef (Netherlands)
Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba.net)

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