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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 21:01 GMT
Hapoel Tel-Aviv 2-1 Rangers
By Colin Moffat

Rangers skipper Barry Ferguson in action against Hapoel Tel-Aviv
Rangers failed to find any rhythm against Hapoel Tel-Aviv
Rangers' good European form deserted them as they fell to a dismal Uefa Cup first leg defeat in Israel.

The home side took a half time lead when Salim Toama curled in a fabulous long range free kick.

Early in the second half a Barry Ferguson free kick was deflected on to a post and Nacho Novo followed up to score from close range.

But Rangers failed to build on their good fortune and were caught out when Baruch Dago slid in the winner.

Rangers were looking to make it 13 matches unbeaten in Europe but never got going against a very ordinary side.

However, the Glasgow side did secure an away goal and should be confident of overturning the deficit.

Rangers manager Walter Smith made three changes from the side who defeated Kilmarnock on Sunday.

Kevin Thomson and Ugo Ehiogu were missing with hamstring injuries, while Charlie Adam dropped to the bench.

MY SPORT DEBATE: Give your thoughts on the match

In came Gavin Rae, Karl Svensson and Novo for the last 32 first leg at the Bloomfield Stadium.

Rangers made a sluggish start and survived an early scare when Izbita Ogbona's opportunistic shot from the edge of the penalty area drifted wide.

Katzor Wellington then fizzed in a powerful strike from 22 yards but keeper Allan McGregor got down smartly to block.

The visitors first threatened when Chris Burke got the better of his marker and delivered a dangerous cross which Novo glanced wide with a free header from 10 yards.

Nacho Novo celebrates his 52nd minute goal
Novo scored on 52 minutes to make the score 1-1

On 25 minutes Rangers defender David Weir got on the end of a Burke corner kick and thumped a header narrowly over the crossbar.

Rangers were enjoying the bulk of possession and appeared to be cruising towards the half time interval on level terms until a moment of magic from Toama.

The home team were awarded a free kick 25 yards from goal and the midfielder curled a delicious strike into the top corner of the net.

Rangers forced a series of corners early in the second half and were claiming for a penalty when a Weir header struck the arm of a defender.

And their pressure paid off, with the equalising goal coming from a set-piece on 52 minutes.

Ferguson's free kick lacked the quality of Toama's but it took a fortunate ricochet off a home player and spun on to the post, allowing Novo to bundle the ball home from almost on the goal-line.

Hapoel did little to increase the pedestrian pace of the match but they squandered a good chance when Elyaniv Barda blazed a shot over the bar after the ball had fallen kindly for him.

Rangers failed to heed that warning and they were caught out with 12 minutes remaining.

Barda was allowed to drift in behind the visiting defence and his shot across goal was diverted in by the sliding Dago.

Rangers pushed on in the final minutes and Charlie Adam's long-range lob was tipped over by Shavit Elimelech before Karl Svensson headed a Gavin Rae cross inches over the bar.


Hapoel Tel-Aviv: Elimelech, Abuksis (Chen 83), Ogbona (Vermot 87), Antebi, Badir, Bondar, Barda, Dago, Doani, Wellington (De Bruno 67), Toama.
Subs Not Used: Ben Shaanan, Abutbul, Jolic, Peretz.

Booked: Ogbona, Bondar, De Bruno.

Goals: Toama 43, Dago 76.

Rangers: McGregor, Hutton, Svensson, Weir, Rae, Ferguson, Hemdani, Novo (Sionko 79), Burke (Adam 84), Murray, Boyd.
Subs Not Used: Robinson, Sebo, Lennon, McMillan, Perry.

Booked: Burke, Murray.

Goals: Novo 53.

Att: 13,000

Ref: Pedro Oliveira Alves Garcia (Portugal).



SEE ALSO
Smith laments Rangers defending
14 Feb 07 |  Rangers


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