|A crowd of just over 50,000 watched as Rangers' interest in the Champions League ended in Germany tonight. VfB Stuttgart booked their place in the last 16 with a 1-0 win over the visitors from Glasgow. A lapse in concentration at the end of the first half gifted defender Timo Wenzel the decisive goal and Rangers did not look like salvaging it in the second half. Rangers had a scare inside the first minute when Aleksandr Gleb beat Michael Ball for pace but Henning Berg managed to scramble the ball for a corner which came to nothing. Rangers settled after this and frustrated Stuttgart for long spells as they closed down the midfield and defended in depth. Gleb caused more anxiety in the 18th minute after Paolo Vanoli gave away possession but Stephen Hughes was back quickly to thwart the home side. Philipp Lahm then tried his luck from distance but Stefan Klos was untroubled as the ball flew over his crossbar. |
Rangers had the first clear-cut chance of the match midway through the first half when Shota Arveladze put Fernando Ricksen through. However, Timo Hildebrand managed to stick out a leg to deflect the shot wide for a corner. The miss was almost punished in Stuttgart's next attack when Gleb set up Kevin Kuranyi but, with only Klos to beat, he slipped his shot wide. Klos made another fine save in the 31st minute to block Kuranyi but Rangers restricted Stuttgart to only fleeting glimpses of goal. But Rangers conceded an avoidable goal in first-half stoppage time. Maurice Ross and Vanoli collided in attempting to clear a free-kick and the ball broke to Wenzel who scored with a left-foot volley off the inside of the post.
Rangers introduced Michael Mols early in the second half in a bid to secure the goals they needed to keep their Champions League interest alive. Silvio Meissner was wasteful when he shot wildly after a poor clearance from Ball as Stuttgart sought to kill off the tie. Kuranyi went close with a 20-yard shot after Hildebrand had sent Gleb clear but the young striker should have done better with Klos exposed. Kuranyi had another chance late on with a header but again could not direct it on target.
VfB Stuttgart: Hildebrand, Hinkel, Meira, Wenzel, Lahm, Meissner, Soldo, Heldt (Tiffert 49), Hleb (Centurion 73), Szabics (Branco 89), Kuranyi. Subs not used: Heinen, Amanatidis, Gerber, Cacau
Rangers: Klos, Ross (Ostenstad 70), Berg, Khizanishvili, Ball, Hughes, Vanoli (Mols 55), Capucho, Ricksen, Arveladze, Lovenkrands (Burke 80).
Subs not used: McGregor, Emerson, Gibson, Smith.
Booked: Hughes, Lovenkrands
Referee: Manuel Enrique Mejuto Gonzalez (Spain).
Ger Harley (email@example.com)