Champions League - Valencia dominate Rangers

Tue, 02 Nov 21:35:00 2010

A Roberto Soldado brace inspired Valencia to a comfortable 3-0 win over Rangers in their Group C Champions League encounter at the Mestalla.

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Soldado squeezed the ball in between Sasa Papac's legs from a corner to give the hosts the lead just after the half hour mark.

The Spaniard then added his second on 71 minutes as he shot low, underneath the otherwise brilliant Allan McGregor after a neat exchange with Juan Mata on the edge of the box.

Tino Costa completed the scoring in stoppage time as he dived in at full stretch to knock home Miguel's deep cross via the post, and Rangers could not muster a response.

But the Scottish champions did start brightly: Steven Naismith twice hit the post for the visitors, the first occurring with the match still scoreless.

The home side dominated from the first whistle but initially found themselves frustrated by McGregor in the Rangers goal.

After four minutes, the Rangers defence were caught square by a cute David Albelda chip which Juan Mata latched on to and volleyed from an acute angle into the palms of McGregor and behind for a corner.

McGregor would next pull off a magnificent full-stretch save as he palmed away a fierce Mata drive from 12 yards following Artiz Adruiz's pull back.

After such brilliant play between the posts, it was a shame for the visitors that the goal conceded was on the sloppy side. With a crowd of bodies around him at the corner, McGregor could only knock the ball down into the penalty area and into the path of Soldado, who was lurking at the far post. The forward spun quickly and squeezed the ball into the back of the net, between Papac's legs.

With so much possession afforded to the home side, Mata and Joaquin - supposedly wingers - were playing as third and fourth strikers for Valencia, affording Rangers room to attack down the flanks through Steven Whittaker and Naismith.

Indeed, Naismith almost opened the scoring on eight minutes as he quickly turned away from David Navarro, jinked past two more defenders and hit a curling effort across the keeper which looked destined for the back of the net, but for a fingertip save from Cesar Sanchez tipped the ball onto the post.

Kenny Miller had precious little service in attack for Rangers, and had to wait until the hour mark before being offered a sight of goal. Naismith cut past two defenders on the touchline and slid the ball through to Miller who, instead of driving the ball first time, cut the ball back inside and curled an effort straight at Sanchez.

In a match in which chances were at a premium for the visitors, it was a glorious opportunity for Rangers to draw level which Miller should have seized.

Soldado made sure of the points on 71 minutes as he played a neat one-two with Mata on the edge of the box before firing a low drive across goal which McGregor got a hand to, but could not keep out. It was a black mark on an otherwise faultless night for the Rangers keeper.

With eight minutes left, Naismith hit the post for a second time. Miller, who had switched positions with Naismith, crossed in from the touchline and found the unmarked midfielder, who did not even need to jump as he headed the ball toward goal, away from the keeper and back off the inside of the post.

Valencia themselves would strike the inside of the post in stoppage time through Costa, but this time the ball ran along the goal-line and into the back of the net to complete a comprehensive victory for the hosts.

The victory moves Valencia above Rangers into second position in Group C on seven points, while Rangers look set to secure at least a Europa League spot as they sit in third place, five points clear of Bursaspor.

Dan Rumens / Eurosport

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