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BBC Five Live's Roddy Forsyth
reports from Ibrox
 real 14k

Rangers manager Dick Advocaat
"Pleased with the result, pleased with the performance."
 real 14k

Saturday, 16 September, 2000, 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
Five-star show storms Graz
Ronald de Boer hugs Michael Mols, who had opened the scoring against Sturm Graz at Ibrox
Ronald de Boer hugs Michael Mols, who had opened the scoring against Sturm Graz at Ibrox
Rangers 5-0 Sturm Graz

Rangers' Dutch colony combined to sweep aside Sturm Graz and any painful memories of recent league performances in a five-star opener to their Champions League campaign.

The pre-match hype was all about Michael Mols, the Dutch striker who had returned on Saturday in the draw at Dundee.

However, it was their recent acquisition from Barcelona, Ronald de Boer, who was the architect of a victory that bodes well for their Group D campaign.

De Boer supplied countryman Mols with the opening goal, then added the second himself before German Jorg Albertz, another Dutchman, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, and finally a Scot, Billy Dodds completed the scoring.

Under-performing

Rangers manager Dick Advocaat had hinted beforehand that his under-performing team was close to a shake-up - and so it proved.

Mols, who played his first full 90 minutes in 10 months at Dundee, was always likely to be a starter.

However, Neil McCann, the Dens Park goal-scorer, the league's top scorer, Dodds, and Turkish international midfielder Tugay, voted by many his side's man of the match at the weekend, all found themselves on the bench.

That was to allow the return of Albertz and Barry Ferguson to midfield, with the surprise being a rare start for Allan Johnston, only his second for Rangers.

Dropped out

Scott Wilson, now reportedly no longer attracting the interest of the Austrians, dropped out altogether to accommodate Bert Konterman's return from injury.

Advocaat's changes worked a treat and Mols netted one of the easiest goals of his career after only nine minutes to give Rangers an instant cure to their league woes.

Recalled winger Johnston crossed, Albertz attempted to a shot that deflected wide of the Austrians' goal, defender Gilbert Prilasnig attempted to usher it over the line, but de Boer showed his tenacity to turn it in to the six-yard box, where Mols gratefully slammed the ball home.

There followed some moments of hesitation in a Rangers defence that has conceded more goals than any in the Premier League.

Almost doubled

However, their lead was almost doubled when Johnston hit a post from a Mols flick on, although Graz were awarded a free-kick for an earlier Ferguson foul.

It was not long before Rangers did add a second, Johnson crossing to the near post in the 19th minute and de Boer lost his marker at the front post to poke the ball over the line to grab his first goal for his new club.

Rangers ought to have had a penalty immediately after when Mols was upended by Ramiz Mamedov on the edge of the box.

However, they had to make to with a free kick and goalkeeper Josef Schicklgruber beat away de Boer's powerful drive.

Vulnerable

The Scottish champions still looked vulnerable at the back, especially when opponents ran directly at Amoruso and Konterman.

Jorg Albertz is congratulated by Barry Ferguson and Michael Mols
Jorg Albertz is congratulated by Barry Ferguson and Michael Mols
Finally the visitors threatened, with a drive from captain and midfield playmaker Hannes Reinmayr that flew a few yards over from 22 yards after 26 minutes.

Two minutes later, though, Rangers made it three, Claudio Reyna playing the ball wide to Albertz, who delivered one of his trademark blockbusters in to the far corner of the net from just inside the box.

Mols should have made it even more convincing for Rangers when de Boer's cross found his countryman unmarked 16 yards out, but the volley flew well over.

Just wide

Schopp almost pulled one back four minutes before the break with a drive that was just wide.

The Austrians, though, looked to have lost all heart after the break and a Johnston drive struck the top of the bar.

Rangers could even afford the luxury of an Albertz missed penalty when de Boer was brought down on the edge of the box.

De Boer was again the dangerman when he set up the next goal after 72 minutes, passing the ball into the path of van Bronckhorst, who drove the ball into the far corner from the edge of the box.

Early bath

That was de Boer's last touch as he took a well-deserved early bath.

A tired Mols had been substituted earlier and it was his replacement, Dodds, who put the icing on the cake, chipping the ball expertly over the goalkeeper from an acute angle five minutes from the end of a satisfying night for Advocaat's men.

Rangers: Klos, Reyna, Konterman, Amoruso, Numan, de Boer, Ferguson, Albertz, van Bronckhorst, Johnston, Mols.

Subs: Charbonnier, Ricksen, Kanchelskis, Dodds, Tugay, McCann, Vidmar.

SK Sturm Graz: Schicklgruber, Mamedov, Foda, Strafner, Schopp, Schupp, Korsos, Fleurquin, Prilasnig, Reinmayr, Yuran.

Subs: Baruwa, Mahlich, Szabicz, Popovic, Koutsoupias.

Referee: L Cortez-Bapista (Portugal)

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See also:

12 Sep 00 |  Rangers
Osim hails Rangers' class
11 Sep 00 |  Rangers
Rangers v Sturm Graz preview
12 Sep 00 |  Scotland
Real test of Advocaat's ability
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