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Page last updated at 09:00 GMT, Monday, 18 October 2010 10:00 UK

Rangers up for Valencia test

Pablo Hernandez celebrates his goal against Barcelona
Hernandez put Valencia ahead in their 2-1 defeat by Barcelona

By Liam McLeod

In-form Rangers striker Steven Naismith is hoping he and his team-mates can provide the club's fans with more Champions League joy this week.

The undefeated Ibrox men take on La Liga giants Valencia on match-day three in the competition on Wednesday.

And Naismith believes adding to the four points already accrued is possible against "Los Che".

"We've started the campaign really well and we need to try and continue that," he told BBC Scotland.

Naismith has had a superb October so far. He scored the only goal of the game against Turkish champions Bursaspor in the Champions League before netting the late match-winner at Hearts.

Valencia are a top side and we have a very tough task in front of us

Rangers forward Steven Naismith

Since then, he added goal number six of the season in the 4-1 hammering of Motherwell in Glasgow and managed to squeeze in his first international goal for Scotland against Spain as well.

While Rangers were establishing themselves at the top of the Scottish Premier League, Valencia were losing their top spot in Primera Liga.

They were beaten 2-1 at Barcelona in a game that fits perfectly with the classic football "game of two halves" cliche.

Having outplayed Barca for much of the first half and taken the lead through Pablo Hernandez - a certain starter against Rangers - second half strikes from Andres Iniesta and captain Carles Puyol turned the game.

But, despite that, there was more than enough on show from Unai Emery's men to suggest they are still a class act despite the summer departures of David Silva to Manchester City and David Villa, who faced Valencia for the first time since signing for Barca.

Naismith and some of his team-mates were going to take the game in having secured their own three points.

"Valencia are a top side and we have a very tough task in front of us," Naismith added.

"We know we are going to have to concentrate for the full 90 minutes. We know they're a top team.

Steven Naismith celebrates against Motherwell
Naismith scored another goal for Rangers against Motherwell

"They've got some world class players, which we already know about, but we'll take what we can from their match against Barcelona."

The match in the Nou Camp was one for which Emery decided to leave big-hitters Aritz Aduriz, Juan Manuel Mata and Vicente on the bench, though they all appeared in the second half.

Expect Mata to return for their Ibrox visit this week.

The 22-year-old was second only to Barca's Xavi in the assist stakes in Spain last season and can cut teams wide open with a single pass.

The visitors lined-up in a more conservative than usual fashion with veteran David Albelda - who faced Rangers with Valencia 11 years ago in this competition - the sitter in midfield with Pablo playing in behind striker Roberto Soldado.

Indeed, Pablo should have made it 2-0 minutes after finding the net but shot straight at goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

As with Rangers' victory over the Steelmen, an early second-half strike was to prove crucial to where the points went in the Catalan capital, as Iniesta's finish, after a one-two with Xavi, came in the 47th minute.

Coach Emery said: "We had two clear chances in the first half, but they levelled early in the second and that was a real handicap for us.

"Barca pushed us back after that even though we had the desire to attack and try and win the game."

Barcelona were easily the better side in the second-half, but the belief in Spain is that they had to play better than they have done all season to turn it around against their stubborn visitors.

The task Rangers face is a tall one. But, with the Glasgow side having two great results behind them already in the competition, Valencia will be wary of the threat posed inside what will be an electric Ibrox.



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see also
Valencia star in awe of McGregor
17 Oct 10 |  Rangers
Boss Smith forgives sluggishness
16 Oct 10 |  Rangers
Rangers 4-1 Motherwell
16 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier
Rangers can top Group C - Weiss
30 Sep 10 |  Rangers
Rangers 1-0 Bursaspor
29 Sep 10 |  Rangers
Valencia 0-1 Man Utd
29 Sep 10 |  Europe


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