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banner Tuesday, 7 November, 2000, 23:58 GMT
Simone leaves Rangers in despair
Arthur Numan collapses in despair after the final whistle
Arthur Numan collapses in despair after the final whistle
By BBC Sport Online's Clive Lindsay

Rangers 2-2 Monaco

Marco Simone killed Rangers' Champions League dream with a late equaliser after the home side squandered a series of chance to claim victory at Ibrox.

The draw meant that both the Scottish side and visitors Monaco were eliminated from Group D after Galatasaray and Sturm Graz drew in Turkey, leaving Rangers with the consolation of qualification for the Uefa Cup thanks to finishing third.

Kenny Miller had given Rangers an early lead and, although Francisco da Costa equalised, a second-half strike by Michael Mols appeared to be sending his side through until Simone's goal knocked the wind out the sails of an injury-hit side flagging for lack of match fitness.

Rangers had been given a boost, with Dutch pair Ronald de Boer and Mols being considered fit enough to take their place in the starting line-up.

Tactical surprises

Miller, who scored five in the 7-1 thrashing of St Mirren on Saturday, was included up front alongside Mols.

Rangers manager Dick Advocaat is famed for his tactical surprises and this time it was the selection of Tony Vidmar ahead of Tugay, who has played so well for Rangers in Europe, as they lined-up with three centre-backs.

Advocaat's men made a dream start and any doubts that he had about Miller's readiness for Champions League football were surely dispelled after only three minutes.

Barry Ferguson, revelling in his role as captain, sprayed a beautifully flighted pass wide to Arthur Numan.

Broke clear

The Dutch international volleyed his cross into the box and Pablo Contreras, the right back playing on the other side of the pitch, appeared to lose his bearings at the back post, let the ball bounce in front of him, then over his head, and the waiting Miller's volley deflected off the defender past Stephane Porato from 10 yards.

Marco Simone pulls Monaco level for a second time
Marco Simone pulls Monaco level for a second time
That gave Rangers the confidence to dominate the first quarter and they should have taken advantage when de Boer broke clear wide on the right but delayed his cross too long, then Miller's powerful effort was blocked by the goalkeeper and Mols sent his first-time effort just wide from the rebound.

It had taken Monaco 18 minutes to win their first corner and their cause was hampered further when influential midfielder Marcelo Gallardo, who had been a pre-match doubt, had to go off injured after 25 minutes, to be replaced with former Watford man Xavier Gravelaine.

The commitment was there but the goals we gave away were quite cheap. There are no excuses
  Dick Advocaat

Ironically, Monaco's first clear-cut opportunity arrived a minute later, Shabani Nonda's mis-hit shot on the turn from eight yards still forcing Vidmar to clear off the line.

Drives from Mols and Miller came agonisingly close to putting Rangers further ahead, but they paid for those misses after 39 minutes when Francisco da Costa stole in ahead of the home defenders to flick a Simone header into the roof of the net.

The pendulum had swung in Monaco's favour now.

However, a draw was not enough to take either team through and, as the French side pushed forward, Rangers made them pay after 52 minutes.

Clean through

De Boer headed the ball over the defence and Mols, in the clear, took his time to drive the ball under the keeper in what was to be the still not totally fit striker's last touch before he was replaced by Tugay.

Rangers were dominant by now and Porato had to dive at full stretch to beat away an Albertz drive and Miller should have done better when clean through.

Once more the Scottish side paid for their failures in front of goal and substitute Dado Prso picked up a loose pass and played it through to Simone, whose low shot from 15 yards left Christensen for dead.

Advocaat's gamble of playing several players struggling with injury or lack of match fitness had almost paid off, but they were now dead on their feet, with their hopes of progressing to the second stage of the Champions League buried for another year.

Rangers: Christensen, Vidmar, Wilson, Amoruso, Numan, Ricksen, Ferguson, Albertz, de Boer, Miller, Mols.

Subs: Brown, Kanchelskis, Wallace, Dodds, Tugay, McCann, Porrini.

Monaco: Porato, Da Costa, Christanval, Irles, Contreras, Dabo, Bonnal, Giuly, Gallardo, Simone, Nonda.

Subs: Biancarelli, Riise, Gravelaine, Wagneau, Leonard, Prso, Rodriguez.

Referee: Lubos Michel (Slovakia).

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See also:

07 Nov 00 |  Champions League
Champions League: Minute-by-minute
07 Nov 00 |  Champions League
Monaco close to breaking rules
07 Nov 00 |  Champions League
De Boer fit for Monaco clash
04 Nov 00 |  Scot Prem
Rangers romp back to form
30 Oct 00 |  Champions League
Numan Uefa ban is quashed
25 Oct 00 |  Champions League
Rangers stumble in Austria
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