Rangers 1-4 Unirea Urziceni: ‘Gers destroyed in Champions League embarassment
Unirea Urziceni went from European minnows to Group G contenders as they destroyed a sorry Rangers side at Ibrox.
The Scots had been in poor form all season, despite topping their domestic league table, however any hope that they would finally get things together against the Romanians – who’s town is less than half the attendance tonight – was blown away in a second half blitz from Dan Petrescu’s men.
The ‘Gers had taken an early lead, and missed a penalty, but were blown away by a side they had been expected to beat comfortably.
Rangers manager Walter Smith will now find himself under severe pressure, with the light blue’s European dreams hanging by a thread.
Madjid Bougherra was ruled, meaning Lee McCulloch took his place in defence. Pedro Mendes though was passed fit, as Walter Smith opted for his favoured 4-5-1 formation, pitching Kenny Miller alone up front.
Unirea goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis didn’t make it, meaning Daniel Tudor took the gloves, and the replacement ‘keeper could not have had a worst start, as Rangers took the lead inside two minutes.
Pedro Mendes’s took a shot from just outside the area after Rothen found him with the first corner of the game. It deflected wildly off defender Ricardo Gomes, and Tudor’s first action was to pick the ball out of the net.
Any notion though that it would all be one way traffic was quickly dispelled as the Romanians settled quickly, despite the early goal. Though they rarely threatened, they were causing a few brief moments of anxiety in the Rangers defence, and as Rangers’ frustration grew, Balan found himself in the area with a great chance but mis-hit the volley.
It had been an opening half hour that, the goal apart, had lacked a spark. However, suddenly the game started to open up.
Rangers managed to break quickly, but Miller took too many touches and was crowded out. He passed to Mendes whose shot was deflected to Davis, who rolled it to Rothen, but he was blocked.
This was quickly followed by a half chance for Naismith, and as he failed to deliver a second goal, inevitably Unirea pulled level.
Brandan burst forward down the left, drilled in a low ball which Marius Ioan Bilasco had no problem dispatching into an empty net.
Rangers had a golden chance to get back in front before half-time though, with the referee pointing to the spot after a handball. Steven Davis pushed the penalty to the left, however stand-in ‘keeper Tudor this time judged it right and easily managed to push it clear.
Rangers threw on Kyle Lafferty for Pedro Mendes at half-time, as Walter Smith went for goals. However within three minutes, the goals started coming for the visitors.
A corner was poorly cleared, and as it was played back in Bruno Fernandes cutely flicked it towards goal, and it bounced through a ruck of Rangers defenders into the net.
The ‘Gers were rattled, and Ibrox began to empty with less than an hour on the clock when Unirea went 3-1 up.
Balan’s free-kick was a difficult one to deal with, and McCulloch made the night bad to worse for Rangers as he headed into his own net.
Throughout the assault on Rangers goal, one man who deserved a goal was Brandan, and inevitably he got one. A free-kick from 25 yards out was rolled to him, and with the help of a deflection he fired in an unbelievable fourth for the Romanians.
Rangers had nothing but pride to play for now, and Miller and Lafferty both went close with headers, but the danger was always there that Unirea could increase their lead, and Frunza dragged a shot wide as they refused to offer any mercy to their hosts.
The result means Rangers have now lost their last three home games in the champions league by a three goal margin, an astonishing record for a side who were in the Uefa Cup final just two years ago.