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Rediff.com  » Sports » Rangers to meet Zenit in UEFA Cup final

Rangers to meet Zenit in UEFA Cup final

May 02, 2008 09:51 IST

Spaniard Nacho Novo scored the decisive spot-kick as Rangers beat Fiorentina 4-2 on penalties on Thursday to join Zenit St Petersburg in the UEFA Cup final.

Fiorentina's Fabio Liverani and Christian Vieri missed their spot-kicks, which were needed after the semi-final second leg ended 0-0, like the first leg, and stayed goalless after extra time.

Rangers captain Barry Ferguson had his opening penalty saved by Fiorentina keeper Sebastien Frey, but Steven Whittaker, Sasa Papac, Brahim Hemdani and forward Novo made no mistake.

Midfielders Zdravko Kuzmanovic and Riccardo Montolivo converted their spot-kicks for the home side.

Rangers had 65th minute substitute Daniel Cousin sent off for a second yellow in the second period of extra time after he bored his head into Fabio Liverani's temple.

The Scottish club will meet Zenit, who thrashed Bayern Munich 4-0 for a 5-1 aggregate win in the other semi-final, in Manchester on May 14.

The game followed the same plot as the first leg, with Fiorentina dominating possession but unable to find a way past the dogged defending of an unadventurous opponent.

Montolivo had the first shot on target in the 20th minute, but his strike was too central to trouble Rangers keeper Neil Alexander, as was a weak Adrian Mutu effort shortly after.

VISITORS SCARES

The visitors then survived some scares when Alexander fumbled a Massimo Gobbi cross, Papac cleared a dangerous Montolivo ball into the box and Mutu had a sweet strike charged down.

Fiorentina continued to make the running after the break.

Giampaolo Pazzini volleyed narrowly past the near post in the 52nd minute after Mutu had rifled in a low cross and captain Tomas Ujfalusi thrashed a shot just over the bar from the edge of the area 10 minutes later.

Alexander saved a venomous Mutu free kick from 30 metres out before Frey was called into action for the first time in the 77th minute to save a Steven Davis shot.

The Serie A side should have scored shortly after when a Liverani free kick sparked a goalmouth scramble, but substitute Vieri slipped over the ball a metre from the line.

Frey produced a fine save to deny a curling Whittaker strike in the closing stages of regulation time.

Fiorentina made a bright start to extra time with Vieri driving a diagonal strike just beyond the far post and Serb midfielder Kuzmanovic coming close with a header.

Good chances went begging at both ends after the dismissal of Cousin, who had almost scored with a shot that ballooned off a defender and finished just over the bar.

Victory for Rangers avenged a defeat by Fiorentina in the 1961 Cup Winners' Cup final and gave the Glasgow club the chance to add to their 1972 triumph in the same competition.

Source:
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