Gers book semi spot
Darcheville the hero as Gers progress
By James Pearson. Last Updated: 10/04/08 10:45pm
Darcheville: Celebrates opening goal
Rangers are through to the semi-finals of the Uefa Cup following a sensational 2-0 second leg success over Sporting.
Following a goalless first leg at Ibrox an away goal was always going to be crucial and Jean-Claude Darcheville's close-range effort on the hour mark put the visitors ahead before Steven Whittaker settled the contest late on.
Sporting were the better side throughout and created the better of the opportunities, but Gers' superb smash-and-grab job in Lisbon has now set up a semi-final clash with Fiorentina.
The game was decided on the hour mark when Darcheville's neat header picked out Steven Davis, who charged forward before delivering a pin-point cross that the Frenchman dispatched with a first-time effort.
With Sporting pushing forward, Rangers sealed the game deep into injury-time when substitute Whittaker won the ball on the halfway line before surging forward and slotting the ball home into the far corner of the net.
Rangers had the first chance of the match when Gladstone and Tonel failed to deal with a Brahim Hemdani ball into the box, which broke for Darcheville.
Sporting sparked into life
The striker tried to dink over goalkeeper Rui Patricio, as he raced off his line, but Gladstone managed to block the effort.
Sporting's chances had been limited early on but they hit the woodwork when Leandro Romagnoli's free-kick found Liedson and his header smacked off the post.
The home side were sparked into life by the near miss and threatened Rangers again within a few minutes.
This time Romagnoli played a corner out to Miguel Veloso 35 yards from goal and he drilled narrowly past Allan McGregor's right-hand post.
With half-time beckoning, skipper Joao Moutinho saw his shot fizz across the goalmouth and wide of target.
Kevin Thomson picked up the first booking of the game four minutes after the restart for a foul on Veloso, the yellow card ruling him out of Rangers' next match in Europe.
Veloso recovered enough to provide a tempting cross for Marat Izmailov, who bulleted a header across McGregor's goal and past the post as Sporting piled on the pressure.
Rangers grabbed the opener with an hour gone when Darcheville played the ball out to Davis out on the right before racing into the box and collecting the return pass. He then left Patricio with no chance by slotting home from eight yards to send the Gers fans behind the goal into raptures.
With 20 minutes remaining Darcheville - yet to play a full 90 minutes for Rangers - was withdrawn to make way for Daniel Cousin, knowing he had already played a crucial role in this tie.
Liedson could have restored parity for Sporting but hooked his shot high and wide, before Leandro Grimi nodded past the upright.
Ferguson then picked up a booking, meaning he also misses out on the first leg of the semis through suspension.
But nothing would be allowed to dampen the spirits of the Ibrox club tonight as substitute Whittaker - on for Lee McCulloch - provided the icing on the cake by rifling home deep into injury-time following a solo run from his own half.
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