Champions League - Bursaspor hold Rangers

Tue, 07 Dec 22:06:00 2010

Bursaspor fought back to claim a 1-1 draw, and their first Champions League point, against Rangers at the Bursa Ataturk Stadium.

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Kenny Miller scored with Rangers' first shot of the game to give the visitors a 20th-minute lead in the Group C encounter, but relentless second-half pressure from Bursaspor finally told with just 10 minutes remaining in match, Sercan Yildirim stabbing the equaliser home from close range.

Rangers - already guaranteed third place in the group and a Europa League berth - used the dead rubber in Turkey to hand 18-year-old defender Darren Cole his first-team debut.

Midfielder Kyle Hutton, 19, also started for the Gers - with Walter Smith opting to blood his young players against a Bursaspor side still searching for their first Champions League point.

The hosts dominated the early possession, passing the ball with relative ease around the middle of the pitch, under little pressure from a Rangers side apparently intent on sitting back and waiting for a chance to counter.

Lionel Nunez squandered a golden opportunity to make the visitors pay for their lack of ambition in the 16th minute, blazing over the bar with a left-foot strike from 15 yards.

Rangers compounded the hosts' frustrations just four minutes later, taking the lead with their first real attack of the match.

Steven Whittaker's low ball into the box was a yard behind the advancing Miller, but the Scottish striker anticipated it ahead of the ponderous Bursaspor defence - dropping back and finding an acre of space as the hosts' backline continued to retreat.

Miller lashed the ball into the top corner with an immaculate, first-time shot on his left-boot, seemingly vindicating Smith's negative tactics.

The first half played out without another real chance at either end of the pitch.

Bursaspor - stubbornly persisting with toothless, metronomic passing across the middle of the pitch - completed more than double the number of passes their Glaswegian rivals managed, but utterly failed to test Allan McGregor in the Rangers goal.

Bursaspor boss Ertugrul Saglam made a double substitution at half-time; bringing on 26-year-old Argentine forward Pablo Batalla and Omar Erdogan, and his side immediately looked more threatening for the change in personnel.

Federico Insua slipped a clever ball inside to Batalla in the 54th-minute, only for the substitute to fire just wide of the left post from 20 yards.

Four minutes later, Bursaspor captain Bekir Ozan Has fired a tremendous, dipping volley just high of the right post from the edge of the area, as Bursaspor finally found their shooting boots.

The hosts began to pepper Rangers goal with shots, but still failed to find a way through.

Insua fired a wonderful, curling free kick a yard wide of the left post from 20 yards in the 75th minute, before Sercan twice had shots blocked in a 77th-minute scramble in the Rangers box.

It seemed only a matter of time until the visitors' defence crumbled, and Sercan finally dragged his side level with 10 minutes to spare.

Steven Whittaker failed to clear Ozan Ipek's dangerous cross in from the right, leaving the ball for Sercan to drill past McGregor from five yards out.

The 20-year-old Turkish international almost secured all three points for his team with four minutes remaining but - after playing a stunning one-two with Insua into the box - he failed to guide his tame shot past McGregor.

The visitors just about held out against sustained pressure from the hosts in the closing minutes, leaving Bursaspor to rue a missed opportunity to take all three.

Rangers - already eliminated from the Champions League after November's 1-0 defeat to Manchester United - drop into the Europa League without the moral-boosting victory a more attacking display might just have earned them.

John Stead / Eurosport

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