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Sunday, 14 July, 2002, 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK
McLeish in praise of Arteta
Mikel Arteta controls the play against River Plate
Mikel Arteta arrived in the summer from Barcelona
Alex McLeish sung the praises of new signing Mikel Arteta after Rangers' 3-2 defeat by Argentine champions River Plate in New York.

Rangers' boss concluded that the partnership of the former Barcelona midfielder with captain Barry Ferguson was already showing great promise.

The Scots fought their way back from 2-0 down to level with goals from Shota Arveladze and Lorenzo Amoruso in the pre-season friendly at Giants Stadium.

But River Plate grabbed the winner through Massimiliano Lopez.

Barry Ferguson gets to grips with his Argentine opponent
Barry Ferguson got to grips with River
Celso Ayala and Victor Zapata had put them ahead in an entertaining encounter that Rangers finished with 10 men after Arthur Numan was sent off towards the end.

McLeish told his club's official website: "I thought Barry and Mikel were excellent.

"River Plate's midfield was causing us problems early on, so we changed things about and it suited them better.

"Mikel moved further forward in the second half and I thought he had a fantastic game.

"His touch was there and he and Barry looked comfortable with each other."

Ayala opened the scoring after 17 minutes, but Amoruso and Arveladze both spurned chances to equalise before the break.

Arthur Numan (right) is halted against River Plate
Arthur Numan was shown the red card
Zapata made them pay by adding the second six minutes into the second half.

But Arveladze responded by pulling one back after good work from Fernando Ricksen on the hour.

Amoruso's stunning free-kick restored parity on 77 minutes.

But Rangers were immediately caught napping as Lopez netted the winner straight from the restart.

Numan saw red in the dying moments for a tackle on River substitute Andres D'Allesandro.

But McLeish was far from disappointed and added: "I thought it was a terrific game.

"We got everything we wanted in terms of a physical work-out and more.

Lorenzo Amoruso (right) in action in New York
Lorenzo Amoruso (right) scored for Rangers
"We could have scored more goals, River Plate could have scored more goals, so it looks as if defences will have to tighten up a little bit.

"But it was a fantastic game.

"We have plenty to be happy about. The most important thing is we get our fitness 100% at the start of the season.

"It would have been nice to win the game to boost our confidence, but the players shouldn't be too worried.

"We played a lot of good stuff and the only thing we could recriminate ourselves on would be the goals we lost."

See also:

13 Jul 02 | Scotland
12 Jul 02 | Scotland
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