Stalemate at Ibrox but new European record for Rangers

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has guided his team to a new unbeaten record in Europe.
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has guided his team to a new unbeaten record in Europe.

Rangers surpassed Walter Smith’s 1992/93 heroes to set a new record unbeaten run in Europe but were ultimately left frustrated as Spartak Moscow dug in for a 0-0 Europa League draw.

The Group G stalemate was the 11th game Steven Gerrard’s side had managed without loss in continental action this term - beating the previous benchmark for a single season set by Smith’s squad as they came within a whisker of reaching the inaugural Champions League final 25 years ago.

But the Ibrox boss will feel his team should have created more than a list of half-chances after dominating the crisis-hit Russians.

Spartak arrived in Glasgow with fitness coach Raul Riancho in charge after axing boss Massimo Carrera on Monday.

But the visitors were well enough organised to limit Rangers to scrambled efforts and hopeful balls into the box as the Light Blues failed to score at home for the first time under Gerrard.

The draw allowed Villarreal to take over at the top of Group G but Gers remain very much in the hunt for the knock-out rounds with five points from their first three games.

There was no sign of the lethargy which had been on show during Sunday’s win at Hamilton as Gerrard’s side burst out of the traps.

A heavier touch from Alfredo Morelos in the first minute instead of the glancing blow he got to a James Tavernier corner and it would have been the perfect start for the hosts.

Yet for all the industry on show from Gerrard’s men, they were making hard work of cutting Spartak open.

Tavernier’s hit-and-miss set-piece deliveries caused more than a few grumbles amongst the Light Blues faithful but the skipper did cause momentary panic in the Muscovites’ defence 18 minutes in as he swung in from the left - with only a block from Georgie Dzhikiya preventing Lassana Coulibaly.

Morelos and the lively Ryan Kent then combined sharply down the same flank to feed in Daniel Candeias inside the box. The Portuguese winger was faced with the option of shooting or crossing for Coulibaly but seemed caught in between the two as he smashes a wild ball across the face of goal.

The visitors made two half-time changes as Riancho threw on Sofiane Hanni and Roman Eremenko but even that failed to prevent Rangers creating the opening opportunity of the half as Morelos forced goalkeeper Aleksandr Maksimenko into a diving stop.

Spartak finally threatened themselves on 53 minutes as a Coulibaly mistake teed up Lucas Fernando to fire a deflected strike just wide.

But Gers turned up the heat again and should have grabbed the lead on 67 minutes, when Morelos did brilliantly to get in behind and fizz a dangerous ball across the box, but Coulibaly was on his heels when only a touch was needed to convert at the back post.

Allan McGregor was called into action for the first time moments later as he parried a powerful Harri strike while Nikolai Rasskazov swept wide with another chance.

Kent’s magic almost did the trick again late on when he slalomed into the box but Tavernier could only fire over from 18 yards out.

Substitute Eros Grezda had one last chance to seal victory but blazed over Maksimenko’s bar.