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Page last updated at 23:40 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Gers boss downcast on Euro future

Rangers lost 1-0 in Seville
Rangers finished their Champions League campaign with just two points

Rangers boss Walter Smith is predicting lean times for Scottish teams in Europe after their Champions League campaign finished without a single victory.

A disappointing Group G run ended with a 1-0 defeat to Sevilla.

And Smith said: "It's going to be a difficult period in terms of qualifying for the Champions League, the co-efficient is getting harder every year.

"It's an unforgiving tournament. If you are not at the top of your game you can suffer as we have done at home."

Rangers went into their final group match knowing even a Europa League spot was not at stake, while rivals Celtic are also without European football after Christmas regardless of the result of their meeting with Rapid Vienna next week.

Early in the season, Falkirk, Motherwell, Aberdeen and Hearts all failed to reach the group stage of the Europa League.

Smith's men were undone by three defeats on home soil, following a section draw that was widely considered kind on the Glasgow side.

"Everyone knows the standards you need to achieve," added Smith. "We have let ourselves down a little with our home form. Away games have been okay, but the home games have been disappointing."

Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute netted from the penalty spot after eight minutes and Smith feared Rangers could be set to suffer another heavy defeat after slumping to a 4-1 loss to the Spaniards at Ibrox.

"It was a difficult evening for us, Sevilla are the best team in section and we had to work hard," he explained.

"After they got their goal it was always going to be an uphill battle for us.

"You are always concerned when you start like that, we gave up a couple of easy opportunities at the start of the game.

"The penalty was a poor one to give away and it looked like being an awkward evening for us but credit to the boys, they worked hard, especially the midfield players, to make sure we didn't lose many.

"That was a plus for us. There haven't been that many in the Champions League but we worked hard.

"For us it was important that we didn't lose in the manner we did at home. Those results affected us a little in terms of our overall confidence.

"If we had played at home like we did away we would at least have been better placed for a Europa League place."

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Smith added that the group winners, who were without several first-team regulars, have the potential to go all the way in the Champions League, if the draw for the last 16 is kind to them.

"It's an extremely difficult competition to win but they have shown they are up there with the top teams," continued Smith. "They have a good chance and they have good players and if they get some luck in the draw they have an opportunity."

Sevilla boss Manolo Jimenez was content to overcome stubborn and unadventurous opponents.

"Sevilla have qualified again among the 16 best teams in Europe," he said. "It was a difficult match against a team who only had pride to play for and they didn't have a shot at goal until 82 minutes. I am happy.

"Rangers played a lot of men in the middle, and it was difficult to find space. I thought Rangers might have been a bit more daring as they didn't have anything to play for. As I said, it was a difficult match."

When it was pointed out that the Spaniards had 25 shots at goal but scored only once, from a penalty, he added: "We've got to be happy with a victory.

"We created chances, as we have been doing. We have an important match this weekend against Sporting Gijon and the idea was to keep some players in reserve for that.



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see also
Sevilla 1-0 Rangers
09 Dec 09 |  Europe


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