McCormack rescues Rangers
By Andy Clarke. Last Updated: 23/11/05 7:31pm
Teenage substitute Ross McCormack stepped off the bench to keep alive Rangers' hopes of qualifying for the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League as they drew 1-1 in Porto.
The 19-year-old replaced Francis Jeffers in the 76th minute, and seven minutes later he was celebrating his first European goal, which may yet keep manager Alex McLeish in a job.
McLeish has come under increasing pressure after a run of six matches without a win and his side appeared to be heading for a crushing defeat after Lisandro Lopez scored for Porto on the hour.
But McCormack rescued a point when he fired in from close range, keeping The Gers in second place behind runaway leaders Internazionale in Group H.
The Scottish champions can qualify for the next round if they beat Inter in a fortnight's time and will even go through if they lose and Artmedia Bratislava draw with Porto in Slovakia.
What a difference a goal makes. Things had looked so bleak for Rangers as Porto, without being overly inventive in attack, appeared to have done enough to get the win which would have put them in the driving seat for the runners-up spot in the group.
A forgettable first half brought few chances - Lisandro headed over from a Jose Bosingwa cross and Diego saw a shot deflected wide - but Porto coach Co Adriaanse made a tactical switch at the break which changed the course of the match.
Centre half Pedro Emanuel was sacrificed and combative striker Hugo Almeida came on in his place as the hosts adopted a less subtle approach.
Porto were quickly in the ascendancy, as Jorginho headed over and Almeida's shot deflected wide off the impressive Sotirios Kyrgiakos, and they made the breakthrough on the hour.
Bosingwa, the Porto right back, sent over a wonderful cross from the right and Lisandro glanced a fine header away from Ronald Waterreus and into the top corner.
Adriaanse's side had got the goal they were looking for and the coach responded immediately by reverting to four at the back. The pressure subsequently eased on a buckling Rangers defence and they were offered an unexpected route back into the game.
Barry Ferguson shot harmlessly over as the visitors got their first sight of goal, before McLeish gambled, throwing on McCormack and young winger Chris Burke, who replaced Peter Lovenkrands.
Initially, there was little sign that the changes had had any impact, until Fernando Ricksen launched a long ball to the back post, Burke headed back into the six-yard box and McCormack arrived to drive the ball under Vitor Baia.
Rangers had thrown themselves a lifeline, yet they still had to rely on a superb defensive effort from Waterreus and Kyrgiakos to hold on for a point.
Porto seemed certain to score when the ball broke kindly for Almeida in the penalty area, but when his initial effort struck the legs of Waterreus, Kyrgiakos somehow got back onto the line to keep out Paulo Assuncao's follow-up.
Porto v Rangers player ratings
|FC Porto||Team Statistics||Rangers|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||1|
|5||Shots off Target||1|
UEFA Champions League
Wed 23rd Nov - Group G
Anderlecht0 - 2Chelsea
Liverpool0 - 0Real Betis
Wed 23rd Nov - Group H
Inter4 - 0Artmedia Bratis
FC Porto1 - 1Rangers
Wed 23rd Nov - Group E
Fenerbahce0 - 4AC Milan
Schalke3 - 0PSV
Wed 23rd Nov - Group F
Rosenborg1 - 1Olympiakos
R Madrid1 - 1Lyon
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|1||Paris St Germain||6||13|
UEFA Champions League Group D
|3||FC Viktoria Plzen||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group E
|4||FC Steaua Bucuresti||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group F
UEFA Champions League Group G
|2||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||6|
UEFA Champions League Group H