Rangers Appear In 2008 Uefa Cup Final

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Rangers Appear In 2008 Uefa Cup Final

A maiden Rangers goal, infuriating Lionel Messi, a befuddled goalkeeper not knowing he’d won, a Dutch reunion and missing the chance of a lifetime.

No matter what way you cut it, Rangers’ long and winding road to Manchester and the 2008 Uefa Cup final had a little bit of everything in it.

Flickering into life in July in the Champions League qualifiers, Europe’s second competition quickly went from a “distraction” to a date with destiny for Walter Smith’s side.

Twelve years on from Rangers’ appearance against Dick Advocaat’s Zenit St Petersburg in the final, BBC Scotland takes you through the club’s route to Manchester.

‘Heady times’

It was an unlikely and somewhat unintentional scorer that set Rangers on their way in Europe in the summer of 2007.

Veteran Scotland defender David Weir was not renowned for scoring and when he lobbed a pass forward against Zeta of Montenegro, few would have expected it to reach the net. It did and Weir had scored his first Rangers goal having joined six months earlier.

Zeta were despatched 3-0 on aggregate and Red Star Belgrade were overcome 1-0 over two legs. The group stage beckoned with Lyon, Stuttgart and Barcelona lying in wait. Easy, then?

“It was heady times and very quick progression,” said Weir. “Straight into the Champions League and you get a draw like that. Lyon were an unbelievable team, Stuttgart as well, and Barcelona were on a different level.

“We started the group really well. The 3-0 win in Lyon must rank up there as one of Rangers’ best results of all time.

“Barcelona – whenever you play them it’s going to be special, but the front three they had was [Lionel] Messi, [Thierry] Henry and Ronaldinho. We drew 0-0 at Ibrox and it was backs against the wall. They weren’t very happy with the way we played but it was functional and we were getting results and we had seven points after three games and thinking we had half a chance of qualifying.”

https://www.bbc.com

Messi had criticised Rangers’ “anti-football” approach but Weir insists Smith was unperturbed. “Walter would say it was just about finding a way to win the game,” he said. “That was our best way of winning.”

‘It started being a bit of a distraction’

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Barcelona beat Rangers 2-0 at Camp Nou; Stuttgart avenged their opening defeat at Ibrox with victory in Germany; then Lyon got their revenge with a 3-0 win in Glasgow.

As a result, Rangers were consigned to the Uefa Cup as the club pushed for honours on four fronts.

“The league was always the priority,” Weir said. “Europe started as being a bit of a distraction and, although never happy to lose we wouldn’t have been too upset if we’d gone out in the last 16.”

Rangers Appear In 2008 Uefa Cup Final

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