Rangers’ hopes in balance after late heartbreak

RANGERS’ Champions League hopes were left hanging in the balance when a late equaliser from Unirea Urziceni denied them a crucial first victory in the tournament this season.

Rangers’ hopes in balance after late heartbreak

Lee McCulloch thought he had secured the win with a superb strike with just 11 minutes to go but Unirea hit back to claim a Group G point when substitute Marius Onofras grabbed a last-gasp leveller.

“It was really disappointing to give away a goal so late in the game,” said Rangers boss Walter Smith. “They’re always dangerous from set plays but outside of that they had maybe one or two chances, but we had far more and I felt we deserved to win the game,” he continued.

“It’s going to be far more difficult now but we just have to hope we can get ourselves together.”

Elsewhere in Group G, Sevilla joined the growing list of clubs to have booked their spot in the last 16 of the Champions League after holding on for a 1-1 draw against Stuttgart at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium.

Winger Jesus Navas, captaining the side in the absence of a number of senior players, put Sevilla ahead in the 14th minute but the visitors staged a second-half fightback and deservedly claimed a point thanks to Zdravko Kuzmanovic’s deflected 25-yard strike 12 minutes from time.

In Liverpool’s Group E, a devastating second-half spell put Fiorentina on their way to a third straight Champions League victory as they closed in on a quarter-final spot.

With Liverpool only drawing against Lyon, the Viola moved five points clear of their Group E rivals thanks to another goal-fest against basement boys Debrecen.

Fiorentina beat the Hungarians 4-3 away in the last round of matches and it was a similar story last night.

Goals from Adrian Mutu and Gergely Rudolf saw the sides all square at half-time but Dario Dainelli, Riccardo Montolivo and Marco Marchionni all struck between the 52nd and 61st minutes to take the game away from Debrecen.

Adamo Coulibaly pulled one back before Alberto Gilardino netted the final goal of a frantic second half.

Group F remains wide open. Two goals in the last five minutes spared Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan’s blushes with a 2-1 at Dynamo Kiev and re-ignited Inter’s campaign.

Andrey Shevchenko, a legend at Inter’s city rivals AC Milan, scored the only goal of the first half after 21 minutes and it looked like being enough for a shock win.

Inter piled on the pressure in the second period and it finally paid off as the in-form Diego Milito equalised in the 86th minute and Wesley Sneijder won it one minute from time.

Rubin Kazan followed up their shock victory against Barcelona with a defensive masterclass to leapfrog their Catalan opponents in Group F.

Although Barca dominated possession last night they produced few clear-cut chances as the Russian champions produced a perfect defensive display and they could even have taken all three points had Alexander Bukharov taken his chances after being introduced as a substitute with a little under half an hour remaining.

In Arsenal’s Group B, Standard Liege ignited their campaign with a 2-0 victory over Olympiacos last night.

Goals in either half from Dieudonne Mbokani and Milan Jovanovic earned the home side their first win in the group and moved them two points behind their second-placed opponents in the standings.

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