Rangers suffer second-half collapse

Rangers 1 Sevilla 4

Rangers crashed to a demoralising Champions League defeat to Sevilla with a second-half collapse at Ibrox.

Goals from Abdoulay Konko, Adriano, Luis Fabiano and Frederic Kanoute after the break gave the La Liga side maximum points after two Group G games.

The home side, however, will perhaps point to the denial of what appeared to be a stonewall first-half penalty as the turning point in the game.

Ironically, it was Konko who bundled Rangers striker Steven Naismith to the ground in a moment of panic after some careless defending by the visitors.

Quite how Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson arrived at his conclusion only he will know, but Konko added insult to injury when he headed Sevilla ahead five minutes into the second half.

After that it was all too easy for Sevilla as they picked Rangers off and Ibrox had all but emptied by the time Nacho Novo, on for Jerome Rothen, drove in his 88th minute consolation.

Rangers will have to regroup for the forthcoming double-header against Romanian side Unirea Urziceni, although they are unlikely to face a side who will be as clinical in their finishing as the classy Spaniards.

It always promised to be a difficult night for the Govan side.

That Light Blues’ boss Walter Smith reshuffled his side into a mainly defensive line-up was no surprise to the Rangers fans familiar with recent European campaigns, but the choice of Naismith as the lone striker raised a few eyebrows.

The return of left-back Sasa Papac and midfielder Steven Davis from injury and illness respectively, and playmaker Pedro Mendes from suspension, gave a more potent look to the Ibrox side which drew 0-0 for the third Clydesdale Bank Premier League game in a row against Aberdeen on Saturday.

However, the visitors were of a different standard than the Dons, boasting former Spurs and West Ham striker Kanoute and Luis Fabiano in attack.

The Spanish side arrived in Glasgow top of the section after their 2-0 home win over Unirea Urziceni on matchday one, the same night Rangers were gaining a creditable 1-1 draw in Stuttgart.

Sevilla bossed the early stages and in the 13th minute they sliced their way through the Rangers defence and this time Jesus Navas was not ruled offside as he raced down the right.

His cut-back found Kanoute eight yards out but the big striker’s first-time shot was brilliantly blocked by Light Blues’ keeper Allan McGregor and the ball was gratefully scrambled to safety.

Rangers were slowly coming into the game and in the 25th minute, when Steven Whittaker’s cross was headed clear at the edge of the box, Lee McCulloch’s returned volley from 30 yards just cleared the bar.

Moments later the midfielder had another effort from 20 yards which skidded past the far post watched carefully by Sevilla keeper Andres Palop.

The home fans were outraged when Naismith was denied a penalty but they almost had more to complain about four minutes from the break when stopper Madjid Bougherra was dispossessed by Adriano when he tried to walk the ball out his box.

The Brazilian fired in a shot which McGregor did well to parry wide but only to Jesus Navas who drove over from 16 yards, to the relief of Bougherra.

Rangers started the second half with McCulloch heading over from Jerome Rothen’s free-kick, but in the 50th minute the visitors nudged ahead following a free-kick awarded when David Weir was adjudged to have fouled Fabiano 35 yards from goal.

Lolo knocked the ball wide to the unmarked Jesus Navas and when he floated the ball in the box, with Kanoute arguably in an offside position, Konko rose highest to steer a header past the helpless McGregor.

Rangers, fuelled by the sense of injustice, rallied and Kevin Thomson had a decent curling effort from 30 yards tipped over by Palop.

But the home side’s exertions began to take their toll and the game was over in the 63rd minute when Adriano converted from 12 yards after being set up by Luis Fabiano.

There was further misery in the 71st minute when Luis Fabiano headed in from four yards from Kanoute’s deep cross from the right.

Ibrox was silenced again three minutes later, with the home side’s defence in disarray, the roles were reversed when Luis Fabiano played Kanoute in and the big striker calmly slotted past McGregor for number four.

Two minutes from time, Novo smashed in from 25 yards to give the fans who had stayed behind some hope for the rest of the campaign.

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