Rangers 1-4 Sevilla: Stunning Second-Half Gives Spaniards The Spoil
Four goals in 25 second half minutes gave the visitors a convincing win in Glasgow.
A sparkling second half performance gave Sevilla a tremendous 4-1 win over Scottish champions Rangers at Ibrox to cement top spot in Group G of the Champions League.
An even first half saw Rangers denied what looked like a near certain penalty after Abdoulay Konko had brought down Steven Naismith, while Frederic Kanoute had been well denied by Allan McGregor early on.
But the hosts capitulated defensively after the break and the Spanish visitors took full advantage as Konko, Adriano, Luis Fabiano and Kanoute all scored to give them a convincing triumph, despite a late consolation from Nacho Novo.
Walter Smith’s side now have work to do to get their campaign back on track after a draw and a defeat from their two games so far, while Sevilla look like a safe bet to reach the last 16 having picked up a maximum six points.
Rangers lined up in their familiar 4-5-1 European formation, but Naismith was a surprise choice as the lone striker, preferred to the likes of Kenny Miller, Nacho Novo and Kris Boyd. Lee McCulloch was handed a holding midfield role which meant that Steven Davis and Jerome Rothen played on the wings.
Sevilla came into the game on a high after their impressive 4-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao at the weekend. Luis Fabiano and Kanoute were selected to start up-front, with summer signing Alvaro Negredo sitting on the substitutes’ bench.
Sevilla created a great opportunity to open the scoring on 14 minutes. Kanoute slipped in Navas, who had escaped the attentions of Sasa Papac on the right-hand side, and did well to get on the end of the winger’s square return pass. As he seemed destined to fire in from close-range, though, his strike lacked conviction and Gers goalkeeper Allan McGregor was able to make an excellent reflex save.
Ten minutes later McCulloch’s fierce 20-yard volley fell just over the crossbar after Konko had headed away Steven Whittaker’s cross, almost giving Rangers the breakthrough.
In the 36th minute, Rangers were incensed after they were denied what looked like a certain penalty. Konko made a hash of a routine clearance on the edge of his own box and Naismith nipped in. Just as the striker readied himself to shoot at Andres Palop, the French defender seemed to trip him, but the referee was unmoved, sparking a furious reaction from the hosts.
Just before half-time the Gers almost paid for a defensive error of their own. Madjid Bougherra was too casual on the edge of his own penalty box and had his pocket picked by Adriano, who forced McGregor into a low save. From the re-bound, Navas could only shoot over from a tight angle.
Sevilla did find a route to goal five minutes into the second half. Rangers were caught sleeping as Lolo played a quick free-kick out to Navas, who crossed into the area whereKonko was unmarked and able to plant a header back across McGregor and into the corner.
Four minutes later Rangers almost equalised but Papac was inches away from making contact with Whittaker’s low cut-back at the far post. Then Kevin Thomson’s curling attempt was pushed over the bar by Palop.
But in the 64th minute Sevilla scored a crucial second goal through Adriano. A quick one-two from Kanoute and Fabiano released the Brazilian striker, who coolly slotted back a pass for Adriano, who finished with aplomb, finding the far corner under little pressure from the home defence.
Rangers’ resistance looked like it was broken and Sevilla added a third goal on 72 minutes after Thomson had lost possession to Kanoute. The former Tottenham Hotspur striker was given all the time to pick out his strike partner at the far post as Fabiano made no mistake, powering home a header after losing the attentions of Whittaker.
The home side made a double substitution in a desperate attempt to get something out of the game but within moments it was four for Sevilla after their second goal in two minutes. With numbers short at the back, Navas found Fabiano, who breezed past Papac before returning the favour for the previous goal by setting up Kanoute, who slotted past a helpless McGregor.
Both substitutes had a chance to grab a consolation for Rangers but Boyd was denied after Palop spread himself well and Novo couldn’t find the target after being sent through by Bougherra.
Novo was to get on the score-sheet, though, grabbing an excellent consolation with two minutes left. He picked up possession out on the left, cut inside and surged past Konko before flashing a powerful strike into the bottom corner from 20 yards.