Sat, Feb 24, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Rangers rout Hapoel Tel-Aviv 4-0

AFP , GLASGOW

A Barry Ferguson double helped 10-man Rangers ease into the UEFA Cup last 16 with a comfortable 4-0 victory at home to Israeli side Hapoel Tel-Aviv on Thursday.

A Kris Boyd goal between the Rangers captain's goals and a Charlie Adam strike in injury time completed the 5-2 aggregate win for the Scottish side.

However, qualification came at a cost, with Ranger's goalkeeper Allan McGregor suspended for their next game after being sent-off in controversial circumstances.

The red card could not dampen the spirts of Rangers manager Walter Smith who thought it was his team's best performance since he took over from Paul Le Guen last month.

"It is a terrific result and a great performance by the team," Smith said. "I'll be disappointed if the sending-off incident takes away from the fact we played so well."

In the 24th minute Ferguson had blasted Rangers into the lead with an emphatic finish.

Trailing 2-1 from the first leg Rangers went on the offensive from the off and only the woodwork prevented them opening the scoring in the fourth minute.

Chris Burke's near post corner was met by Alan Hutton and his looping header sailed over Hapoel goalkeeper Shavit Elimelech only to rebound off the crossbar.

Hapoel should have silenced the Ibrox crowd in the 20th minute when Elyaniv Barda's cross was knocked on by Barukh Dego to put Salim Toema in on goal but he fired into the side-netting instead of testing McGregor.

In the 24th minute Ferguson blasted the Scottish side into the lead with an emphatic finish.

Striker Nacho Novo did well on the right before firing a low ball across goal for the Rangers skipper to rifle a powerful first-time shot from 12m into the roof of the net.

Almost immediately Barda could have levelled for Tel-Aviv when he was centimeters away from connecting with Toema's attempted shot which flashed across the face of goal.

But in the 35th minute Hapoel gifted Rangers a second goal.

There appeared to be no pressure on Josef Abukasis when he collected the ball on the edge of his own penalty area, but instead of clearing his lines he hesitated before firing straight at the chest of Boyd.

The Rangers striker could not believe his luck and clinically finished low past Elimelech from 12m as the Israeli players screamed in vain for a handball decision.

In the 72nd minute Rangers increased their lead.

Hutton won a tackle knocking the ball into the path of Dado Prso, who had replaced Boyd in the 63rd minute. The Croatian striker drove in on goal before squaring for Ferguson to score from close range.

As Rangers fans in the 46,213 crowd began to celebrate, McGregor and De Bruno appeared to square up to each other resulting in the Hapoel player crumpling to the ground.

Italian referee Matteo Simone showed no hesitation in showing a straight red card to McGregor. German stopper Stefan Klos replaced McGregor in goal, with Novo making way.

Rangers substitute Adam scored a fourth goal deep into injury time, striking Rae's cutback low into the net to take the Scottish side into the last 16 of the competition.

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