VfB Stuttgart 1-1 Rangers: ‘Magic’ Bougherra Takes The Plaudits As Rangers Claim Draw

Stut Rangers

Rangers marked their return to the Champions League group stages following a two year absence with a battling draw away to German side VfB Stuttgart.

Madjid Bougherra proved to be the hero for the visitors as he cancelled out Pavel Pogrebnyak’s opener with a pulsating run and finish.

The Scottish champions could be forgiven for becoming sick of the sight of their German opponents with this being the third time in six years that the two have been drawn together in the group stages of the Champions League.

The Ibrox club had tasted defeat on their last two visits to the Mercedes-Benz Arena back in 2003 and 2007 and it was Stuttgart who started the brighter of the two sides in this particular encounter.

Brazilian-born striker Cacau forced a decent save from Allan McGregor within the first minute of the match and that set the tone for a first-half dominated by Markus Babbel’s side.

Cacau was proving something of a nuisance for a makeshift Rangers defence, stricken of influential defender David Weir prior to kick-off with an ankle injury, and the 28-year-old attacker played a significant part in giving the home side the lead.

The former Sao Paulo man closed down an attempted clearance from Rangers left-back Sasa Papac and proceeded to drive into the box before squaring for Russian international Pavel Pogrebnyak, who slotted the ball home past the hapless McGregor to make it 1-0 Stuttgart after just 17 minutes.

Walter Smith’s team struggled to find any sort of momentum in the first-half with Kenny Miller an isolated figure playing as the lone front man in a 4-5-1 formation.

It was indeed the side who finished third in the German Bundlesliga last season who were dominating proceedings both in terms of possession and attempts on goal and they were somewhat unfortunate to not increase their lead going into the interval.

Cacau once against came close in the 38th minute, firing wide when he perhaps should have hit the target and then Pogredbnyak cracked the bar just before half-time although the linesman had already raised his flag for offside.

The visitors started the second-half with far more promise, fashioning their first real opening of the match after 47 minutes when Frenchman Jerome Rothen centred from the right hand side only for Papac to direct a difficult header wide of the mark.

It certainly represented a marked improvement on the opening 45 minutes for Gers although Stuttgart came close once again when wide midfielder Roberto Hilbert galloped into the penalty area before shooting wide of McGregor’s left-hand post.

Rothen then rather fortuitously called Jens Lehmann into his first save of the evening just past the hour mark when his low cross-come-shot nearly caught out the former Arsenal goalkeeper who managed to scramble down to his near post to prevent the ball from crossing the line.

With time ticking by, Rangers needed a moment of inspiration if they were going to force an equaliser and it duly arrived with just 14 minutes left on the clock.

After exchanging passes with Rothen, Madjid Bougherra continued to gamble forward and burst into the area before smashing a low drive past Lehman into the net to send the away support into a state of delirium.

Rangers nearly completed a remarkable turnaround with two chances in the final ten minutes of the match with Scottish international Steven Naismith shooting straight at Lehmann before Steven Davis shaved the post with an effort from outside the box.

Goal

~ by footballdirecta on September 17, 2009.

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