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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 October 2007, 20:37 GMT 21:37 UK
Rangers 0-0 Barcelona
By Liam McLeod

Novo and Abidal
Nacho Novo battles for the ball with Eric Abidal as Rangers hung on
Rangers produced a terrific, disciplined performance to earn a valuable Champions League point against a wasteful Barcelona at Ibrox.

Ronaldinho hit the crossbar, Lionel Messi had a shot cleared off the line and Thierry Henry headed over as the visitors threatened throughout.

But the longer the game went on, the more belief Rangers seemed to garner.

Daniel Cousin missed their best chance with ten minutes left as he lashed his first-time shot wide inside the box.

Rangers kept faith with the same starting 11 that defeated Celtic 3-0 at the weekend with Cousin ploughing a lone furrow up-front.

Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard made three changes to the side beaten 3-1 by Villareal.

Ronaldinho, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Lilian Thuram came in for Deco, Oleguer and Bojan Krkic.

Rangers began the match in spritely fashion but it was the Catalan giants who had the first direct effort on goal.

Carlos Cuellar was forced to hook a Lionel Messi cross-cum-shot from the line as the Argentine marauded into the box.

Alan Hutton then fouled Ronaldinho on the edge of the box with a late challenge.

The Brazilian dusted himself down before whipping the resultant free-kick over the wall then watched it tipped onto the crossbar by Allan McGregor.

It looked like a goal-saving intervention by the Rangers goalkeeper but the Austrian referee Konrad Plautz, awarded a goal-kick.

The hosts refused to lie down to their La Liga visitors though and in a rare foray forward, Nacho Novo saw a 20-yard effort blocked by Andres Iniesta.

But possession was being dominated by Rijkaard's men as the first-half wore on and skipper Puyol saw a header turned past by McGregor as the Spaniards cranked up the pressure.

Barry Ferguson
Barry Ferguson just fails to connect with a Cousin cross

Ronaldinho then collected a Xavi corner inside the box and went for goal only for Hutton to block as the ball headed for goal with faint appeals for a penalty for handball brushed aside.

Despite watching some delightful football from their opponents, Rangers survived the onslaught and got to half-time unscathed.

However, Kevin Thomson picked up a booking that sees him miss the Nou Camp return in a fortnight.

The second period began similarly with Barcelona coming forward in waves but for all their possession, clear-cut chances were kept to a premium.

Thierry Henry - quiet to this point - somehow contrived to head a Xavi cross over the bar from just six yards out with 23 minutes to go.

Although the Spaniards passing was crisp and the touches at times, delightful, the cutting edge was not there and Rangers sensed it.

Cousin sent a tantalising ball across the face of the goal but the sprawling Barry Ferguson could not connect.

Lee McCulloch then hit a 20 yard shot over the bar as the home side threatened to rip up the script once more.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

Cousin himself then spurned Rangers best chance as he scooped a first-time effort wide from a Ferguson cross as the clock ticked down.

The Ibrox supporters watched in delight as Barca happily ran the clock down in the closing stages as full-time approached with the stadium erupting on the final whistle.

The stalemate looks all the more important given Lyon's victory in Stuttgart and Rangers can now head to the Nou Camp in two weeks in good heart and undefeated.


Rangers: McGregor, Hutton, Weir, Papac, Adam, McCulloch, Ferguson, Thomson, Cuellar, Novo (Beasley 72), Cousin. Subs Not Used: Carroll, Boyd, Broadfoot, Whittaker, Naismith, Faye.

Booked: Thomson, Papac, Weir.

Barcelona: Valdes, Thuram, Puyol, Milito, Abidal, Xavi, Gudjohnsen, Iniesta, Ronaldinho, Henry (Giovanni 82), Messi. Subs Not Used: Jorquera, Sylvinho, Ezquerro, Oleguer, Crosas, Bojan.

Booked: Milito, Abidal.

Att: 49,957

Ref: Konrad Plautz (Austria).

SEE ALSO
Smith hails Rangers resilience
23 Oct 07 |  Europe
Barca pair back Gers to qualify
23 Oct 07 |  Europe


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