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Wednesday, 26 July, 2000, 21:49 GMT 22:49 UK
Rangers struggle against minnows
Champions League - second qualifying round, first leg
Rangers 4-1 Zalgiris Kaunas
Rangers were unable to cast off the pre-season cobwebs as they struggled to overcome their little-known Lithuanian opponents.
Despite the visitors being reduced to 10 men in the first half and losing another after the interval the home side had to rely on two last-minute Billy Dodds strikes to give the scoreline some respectability.
Rangers coach Dick Advocaat was far from impressed with his side's performance.
"I was pleased with the result but it was a poor performance. Probably we were not ready for the game and had some problems with the way they played," he said.
"The whole of our team was not sharp enough to have got a normal result against 11 players and it was fortunate for us there were two sendings-off to our advantage.
Kaunas were the first to threaten inside the first minute, with a cross from the right almost catching Stefan Klos by surprise before eventually nestling on top of the net.
Rangers proceeded to dominate the opening quarter of an hour, without ever impressing.
Barry Ferguson, who had been Rangers' busiest player, had the first shot on goal, exchanging passes with Jorg Albertz before pulling a left-foot shot wide.
A heavy challenge by Scott Wilson 25 yards out brought about a dangerous free kick from Kaunas which was missed by everyone.
Albertz then wound up the first thunderbolt of the season, but his 35-yard effort was well off target.
Just as the Rangers hard-to-please support began to show signs of restlessness, a quick free kick was laid into the path of Jorg Albertz.
The German's shot was blocked on the penalty spot, but the ball was prodded by Jonatan Johansson to Allan Johnston who swept the ball into an empty net to give the Scottish champions a 15-minute lead.
Poskus in the Kaunas goal parried the ball superbly, and Rod Wallace's reaction header found only the side netting.
Kaunas were pushing forward at times, without ever really threatening Klos.
But that changed in 27 minutes, when the Rangers defence was caught napping.
With no obvious danger, a quick pass let in Zuta on the edge of the penalty area and his shot left Klos with no chance.
Rangers continued to dominate possession and they had a penalty claim for handball waved away by the referee.
On 40 minutes, Kaunas were reduced to 10 men when Petrenko, who had been booked for his part in a spat with Albertz, tripped the same player, leaving the referee little option but to show him a second yellow card.
Rangers brought on Neil McCann and Billy Dodds to replace Wilson and Johansson at half-time and their pace threatened to cause problems.
Albertz hit an early free kick into Poskus' arms before having a shot blocked by Regelskis who had to go off as a result.
It was Albertz who eventually gave Rangers the lead again in 63 minutes.
A Claudio Reyna free kick was dropped by the keeper, and in the resulting scramble he was adjudged to have fouled a Rangers player.
The German slotted the penalty away in nonchalant fashion.
There was further woe for the visitors seconds later as Nerijus Barasa was shown a straight red card for getting involved with Dodds off-the-ball.
The introduction of young Kenny Miller for Tony Vidmar with 20 minutes remaining was greeted with huge applause around Ibrox.
Rangers boss Dick Advocaat was clearly unhappy at the lack of finishing prowess being shown by his forward men.
Reyna attempted to show them the way with a powerful long-range drive which the keeper again parried well.
Rangers were performing well below par despite holding a two-man advantage, although Miller was unlucky to see a close-range effort come back off the keeper.
Albertz, who was by far Rangers' most threatening player, had a trademark effort cleanly held by Poskus, who performed well throughout.
Reyna pulled a left-foot effort wide but even with five recognised attacking players on the field, there appeared to be no way through the Lithuanian line of defence.
The American stabbed another effort straight into Poskus' arms as the crowds headed for the exits.
Many of them missed Dodds' late strikes, both similar finishes after the little frontman had found some room in a crowded box.
Rangers: Klos, Ricksen, Moore, Wilson, Vidmar, Reyna, Ferguson, Albertz, Johansson, Wallace, Johnston.
Zalgiris Kaunas: Poskus, Barasa, Petrenko, Regelskis, Kancelskis, Zelmikas, Dedura, Guodeikis, Dezykornodas, Zuca, Ksanadicius.
Referee: E Zammit (Malta).
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