WALTER SMITH launched a scathing attack on referee Jonas Eriksson, accusing him of “opting out” of awarding Rangers a crucial penalty in their Group G game against Sevilla.
The Ibrox boss insisted Steven Naismith should have won a spot-kick late in the first half but the match official chose to ignore the claims.
The incident proved to be pivotal in the clash, as Konko went on to set the ball rolling on a 4-1 win, which saw Adriano, Luis Fabiano and Frederic Kanoute also help themselves to a goal a apiece. Nacho Novo did find the net late on for the Scottish champions but the goal was scant consolation for a side reeling from a sense of injustice at the hands of the Swedish official.
“You could say it was a turning point,” said Smith of the penalty claim. “Certainly when we play against teams of the level of Sevilla in the Champions League, you need a set of circumstances to go with you and tonight they didn’t. It was a vital decision for us in the first half. For an hour of the game we played well and during that period we needed a little bit of a break and we didn’t get it.”
With Stuttgart and Unirea Urziceni battling out a 1-1 draw in the other Group G game, Smith predicts a scrap for points in their next two matches, both against Romania’s champions.
Elsewhere, holders Barcelona made it four points from two games in their Champions League group after confidently seeing off Dynamo Kiev 2-0 at the Nou Camp last night.
Lionel Messi put the Catalan giants on their way with the opening goal in the 26th minute before half-time substitute Pedro Rodriguez sealed a fairly comfortable victory with Barca’s second 14 minutes from time.
Earlier in the day, group rivals Inter Milan were held to a surprise 1-1 draw at Rubin Kazan but the Italian champions will have been relieved to be leaving Russia with a point after ending the game with 10 men.
Rubin took the lead in the 11th minute thanks to Alejandro Dominguez but the hosts gifted Dejan Stankovic the equaliser on the half hour.
The hosts were somewhat unfortunate not to take all three points after playing out the final half hour at a feverish pace following the dismissal of Mario Balotelli for a second bookable offence.
It is Inter’s second draw in Group F following their goaless draw at home to Barcelona a fortnight ago.
Elsewhere, AZ Alkmaar were denied a first ever win in the group stages of the Champions League as Moussa Traore’s last-gasp strike salvaged a 1-1 draw for Standard Liege at DSB Stadion.
The Dutch champions looked set to profit fully from Mounir El Hamdaoui’s strike early in the second period of the Group H clash, but the three points were snatched from the grasp of coach Ronald Koeman a minute into stoppage time as Traore pounced.
And in Group E, Lyon made it two wins from two after an irresistible first-half showing saw them coast past Hungary’s Debrecen 4-0 in the most straightforward manner.
Three unanswered goals in the opening 24 minutes – with Kim Kallstrom and Miralem Pjanic netting before Peter Czvitkovics beat his own goalkeeper – were enough to seal the win.
Bafetimbi Gomis’ second-half strike merely provided the icing on the cake.
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