Rangers break Scots\' Champions League drought

Glasgow side atones for disastrous season at home by advancing into knockout stage

Rangers break Scots\' Champions League drought

Rangers rewrote the record books by becoming the first Scottish club to make it into the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday with a tense 1-1 draw against former titleholder Inter Milan.

Despite the win, under-fire manager Alex McLeish was uncertain whether this welcome bit of good fortune would save his job after a disastrous domestic campaign.

When asked if this would be his last match in charge of the Ibrox team he told STV: "I don't know. We will have chats over the next couple of days with the chairman.

"I'm sure we will have something to say in, maybe, 48 hours or so."

He called the result a great night for Scottish football.

"I am absolutely jubilant because they played a very disciplined performance tonight against a very dangerous team.

"The players were magnificent - fantastic.

"We are through troubled times - none more so than myself - and we showed character and spirit that befits this club."

Narrow escape

Over in Italy, AC Milan only narrowly escaped an ignominious exit from a competition it has claimed six times.

The European campaign of last year's finalist was on a knife edge going into the final group match against Schalke 04.

A loss to the Germans could have seen the Italian giants crash out, but a double from Kaka after Andrea Pirlo had opened the scoring gave them a nervy 3-2 win over the Germans which put them through as Group E leaders.

Kaka refused to take all the applause for steering Milan into the knockout stages.

"I'm just happy to have helped the team," said the 23-year-old Brazil international.

"Now we have to keep calm and maintain the same mentality. We survived a difficult group."

Dutch side PSV Eindhoven went through in second after beating Fenerbahce 2-0.

The glamour game of the night was played out at Stamford Bridge where reigning champions Liverpool drew 0-0 with English Premiership titleholders Chelsea.

Both teams had already done enough to qualify, with the result leaving Liverpool topping Group G.

The game was marred by an atrocious, shin-high tackle on Dietmar Hamann by Chelsea's Ghanian midfielder Michael Essien.

But as had been the case with his sickening studs-up thrust into the knee of Bolton's Tal Ben Haim earlier this season, Essien stayed on the pitch.

Mystifyingly, German referee Herbert Fandel not merely saw nothing amiss, but gave the free kick Chelsea's way.

That may be a mixed blessing for Chelsea, though, for the fact that the referee apparently didn't see the incident allows European soccer governing body UEFA to impose its own, retrospective, punishment.

The challenge clearly upset Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez at the time, and at the post-match press conference he remarked: "I could see the tackle. It was just in front of the bench.

"I've also seen Dietmar Hamann' s leg. I have an idea that in this kind of situation they (UEFA) should look at the video."

Real Madrid's first game in the post Wanderley Luxemburgo era ended in an embarrassing 2-1 defeat to Olympiakos.

The Greeks' first win of the 2005/06 Champions League season was achieved against a weakened Spanish opposition when Brazilian striker Rivaldo scored in the final three minutes.

Real, with second team mentor Ramon Lopez Caro in temporary charge after Luxemburgo's sacking at the weekend, took the lead when 19-year-old defender Sergio Ramos headed home a Raul Bravo free kick in the seventh minute.

Turkish defender Erol Bulut leveled in the 50th minute before Rivaldo claimed the winner.

Olympiakos' historic win meant little, however, as the club finished bottom of Group F which was won by French champion Lyon, which beat Rosenberg 2-1, with Real in second.

In Eindhoven, PSV manager Guus Hiddink, who doubles up as World Cup qualifier Australia's coach, was savoring a notable achievement from a team constructed on limited resources.

"Once again it was a great display by my team on the European scene," said Hiddink.

"My players showed a great tactical discipline. If we want to rival the best in Europe, we must respect this tactical discipline."

Updated : 2021-04-19 10:38 GMT+08:00