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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 November 2006, 21:38 GMT
Rangers 2-0 Maccabi Haifa
By Clive Lindsay

Nacho Novo celebrates opening the scoring
Nacho Novo (right) put Rangers ahead at Ibrox
Rangers defied domestic form again in the Uefa Cup as their deserved victory over Maccabi Haifa took them to the top of Group A.

Nacho Novo broke clear after only five minutes to gather a Kris Boyd flick and his low drive deflected off Alon Harazi and past goalkeeper Nir Davidovitch.

A Boyd penalty was saved by the goalkeeper immediately after the break.

And he turned a Barry Ferguson drive against the post before being beaten by a Charlie Adam spot-kick on 89 minutes.

Rangers had been forced to make a late change to their starting line-up after goalkeeper Lionel Letizi suffered a back injury during the warm-up.

Allan McGregor's return to the side meant it was all-change at the heart of defence.

Julien Rodriguez was consigned to the bench, while Sasa Papac was cup-tied.

So Brahim Hemdani dropped back to partner Karl Svensson, while Jeremy Clement returned to midfield and Dado Prso replaced Thomas Buffel up front.

Rangers' re-worked defence were under immediate pressure.

But the Glasgow side soon found their feet and took the lead when Boyd headed on a long ball out of defence from Allan Hutton.

Charlie Adam celebrates scoring Rangers' second goal
Charlie Adam ended Haifa's hopes from the penalty spot

Novo sped clear and his low drive deflected wide of Davidovitch.

Rangers were now on top and Novo fired into the sidenetting from a tight angle after the goalkeeper had flapped at a high ball under pressure from Prso.

But Haifa worked their way into the game and Gustavo Boccoli shot straight at McGregor from 12 yards following one of their trademark quick breaks.

Barry Ferguson finished the first half in pain with a rib injury.

But, although Gavin Rae warmed up during the break, Rangers' captain started the second 45 and was immediately involved in a fine passing move that led to the award of a penalty kick.

Prso had appeared to be fairly tackled by Harazi and justice was done when Davidovitch stretched out one hand to block Boyd's poorly-struck spot kick.

The goalkeeper came to Haifa's rescue again by turning wide Ferguson's powerful drive from the edge of the box.

Skilful Haifa had looked dangerous throughout without troubling McGregor, but the goalkeeper did well to palm clear a ferocious drive from Maor Melikson from 12 yards after 72 minutes.

The match was held up for several minutes by a one-man protest against the Israeli regime.

But Rangers' momentum was not disturbed and they wrapped up the points when Ferguson was felled in the box by Dirceu Xavir and Adam made no mistake from the penalty spot.

Rangers: McGregor, Hutton, Hemdani, Svensson, Smith, Novo, Ferguson, Clement, Adam (Rae 90), Prso (Buffel 66), Kris Boyd (Sebo 66).
Subs Not Used: Letizi, Bardsley, Rodriguez, N'Diaye.

Booked: Hemdani, Prso, Smith.

Goals: Novo 5, Adam 89 pen.

Maccabi Haifa: Davidovitch, Harazi (Meshumar 85), Keinan, Olarra, Magralishvili, Xavier, Anderson, Boccoli (Melikson 60), Katan, Masudi (Arbaitman 81), Colautti.
Subs Not Used: Al Madon, Swan, Gazal, Keisi.

Booked: Boccoli, Anderson.

Att: 43,062

Ref: Costas Kapitanis (Cyprus).

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