Victory would have earned Rangers a £750,000 win bonus, and more importantly seeing the club seeded in the Europa League’s last 32 draw. After Kenny Miller gave Rangers the lead, and breaking his 16-game Champions League goal drought. But just 11 minutes from time Bursaspor grabbed an equaliser, when Sercan Yildrim scored to earn the Turkish side their first point of the Champions League campaign. The result also failed to improve Scotland’s co-efficient much.
Rangers went into their last game of the Champions League, with no chance of qualifying for the last 16 of the competition, but had their place secured in the Europa League. But there was still all to play for, as Rangers could secure a £750,000 windfall, as well as secure a seeding in the Europa League and help improve Scotland’s UEFA co-efficient.
Bursaspor, sporting their green and white hooped strip, started the game brightly and they could have taken the lead in 16 minutes when striker Leonel Nunez beat Bougherra in the box to give himself space to shoot, but he fired over the bar.
But twenty minutes into the game and Rangers broke the deadlock with Miller’s first goal of the season in the Champions League, but taking his goal tally to 19 for the season in all competitions. Naismith’s pass sent Whittaker down the left flank and his low cross evaded the Bursaspor defenders, who were caught ball watching, and Miller who was lurking in the penalty box, fired a left footed shot past Yavuz Ozkan from 14 yards out.
Just a minute later, youngster Darren Cole – making his first team debut – curled a cross to the back post and with Naismith unmarked, he headed over the bar.
There was a moment when trouble could have ensued when there was some trouble within a section of the home crowd, several Bursaspor fans broke through the security cordon and towards the Rangers fans in the corner, goading them on, as they looked for trouble. But there was no reaction other than the usual verbal volleys from the Rangers support.
Bursaspor brought on Omer Erdogan and Pablo Batalla for Serdar Aziz and Huseyin Cimsir respectively at the start of the second half, but Rangers could have extended their lead within two minutes of the restart, but Miller sent his header past the post after a Whittaker cross.
After that Rangers sat back, welcoming Bursaspor onto them, hoping that their disciplined defence could see the match out. But Rangers were pushing their luck as the Turkish side looked for the equaliser. Just before the 60th minute mark, Bursaspor skipper Bekir Ozan volleyed high over the bar.
Despite Rangers now and again pushing forward for their second goal to kill the game off, the Bursaspor keeper was a spectator for much of the second half.
Miller was replaced by James Beattie just after 60 minutes. Bursaspor replaced Nunez with Turgay Bahadir – a decision that was met with boo’s by the home fans. And ten minutes later Vladimir Weiss replaced Naismith as Rangers looked to see the game out.
McCulloch brought down Batalla twenty yards out from goal, but the resulting free kick from Federick Insua curled wide of McGregor’s right hand post.
But 11 minutes from time Bursaspor deservedly equalised when a cross from Ozan Ipek found Sercan Yildrim 12 yards out and wih the Ibrox defence in a muddle, he strike past McGregor.
Moments later Yildirim could have secured all three points, as he worked a one-two with Insua and found himself through in goal against McGregor but he miskicked, allowing the Rangers goalkeeper to gather.
With the minutes counting down, Rangers had to defend desperately at times, but as the final whistle sounded their time in the Champions League ended and now they await the draw for the Europa League on Friday, to see who they will face.
Miller 19′ (0-1)
Yildirim 79′ (1-1)
Bursaspor: Ozkan, Keceli, Aziz (Erdogan 46), Stepanov, Wederson, Has, Cimsir (Batalla 46), Yildirim, Insua, Ipek, Nunez (Bahadir 62). Subs Not Used: Ivankov, Kirita, Ergic, Odabasi.
Rangers: McGregor, Cole (McMillan 82), Bougherra, Weir, Whittaker, Foster, Davis, McCulloch, Hutton, Naismith (Weiss 71), Miller (Beattie 63). Subs Not Used: Alexander, Fleck, Perry, Wylde.