Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Smith eyes Euro win over Man Utd

Rangers manager Walter Smith
Smith's side were beaten for the first time this season

Manager Walter Smith believes Rangers must beat Champions League Group C leaders Manchester United if they are to pip Valencia for a last-16 place.

The Spaniards' 3-0 defeat of Rangers was the Ibrox side's first loss this season and leaves them on five points, two behind Valencia with two to play.

Now Smith is plotting a home win on 24 November over the English side.

"If we can get the points and try to put a bit of pressure on Valencia, all to the good," said the Rangers boss.

Rangers and Valencia drew 1-1 in the Ibrox leg of their double header in the Champions League group stage, and could have taken three points from that encounter had their finishing been more clinical.

But at the Estadio Mestalla, the closest the Scots came to scoring was when Steven Naismith twice hit the post, first with a right-foot shot when the match was goalless, and then with a second-half header, by which time Roberto Soldado had given the Spaniards a two-goal lead.

We need results to go for us but we also want to do well in our last couple of games

Rangers manager Walter Smith

Smith told the post-match media conference: "We set out at the start of the Champions League to do as well as we could in every game.

"We have acquitted ourselves well in the first three games, not so well tonight, so we'll just have to try to get back on track in a couple of weeks' time.

"We obviously have a difficult game against Manchester United at home. They look as if they have safely qualified from the section but you can never tell what will happen.

"We'll have a good chance. Hopefully we can acquit ourselves well in our last couple of games. That's first and foremost."

With Bursaspor still to register a point from four matches, Rangers look a good bet to be playing European football after Christmas, though they may have to settle for the Europa League - if they can finish third in the table.

"Manchester United and Valencia were the two favoured teams to start," said Smith, assessing which two teams in the group would go through to the last 16.

"Valencia have a home game against Bursaspor to effectively qualify for the Champions League (knock-out stages).

"No disrespect to Bursaspor, but you would put Valencia as favourites for that game so it will be difficult for us.

"We need results to go for us but we also want to do well in our last couple of games."

Referring to Cesar Sanchez's fingertip save that tipped Naismith's shot on to the post, Smith added: "It was a terrific save from him.

"As I've said often, I think we are a team that need the circumstances of the game to go with us to have an opportunity in the Champions League.

"After that Valencia had quite a bit of pressure. Allan McGregor had a couple of really good saves, although it was a scrappy first goal.

"We were disappointed at that because the longer it goes at 0-0, the better our opportunities.

"Once we had to chase the game and it went open, we were 2-0 down, then we had the opportunity to cause a bit of nervousness late in the game.

"But overall Valencia took the chances to score and credit to them for that."

Potenshöjande medel -

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