If you had given Walter Smith a 0-0 draw pre-match in Eindhoven, I’m sure he’d have done more than bite your hand off.
Against a side that had scored 44 goals in the Eredivisie at home this season, Rangers looked fairly comfortable despite a few defensive lapses which could have proved costly had PSV been more ruthless in front of goal.
It was a surprise to see Neil Alexander come in to replace Allan McGregor but the man, who was between the sticks for the UEFA Cup Final in 2008, was very good and made some sharp saves, especially from Marcus Berg in the first-half.
With the domestic season having many similarities to the unsuccessful 10IAR year, the European campaign has a number of similarities with the 2008 UEFA Cup run. Rangers beat Sporting Lisbon in that year, and produced a number of outstanding defensive performances, with tonight’s draw in PSV almost a replication of some of those performances.
It is very difficult to pick out any faults in our defensive performance with just 2 or 3 chances falling to PSV throughout the game. Marcus Berg had a shot well blocked by Alexander in the first-half and also fired wide when Toivonen was given space to run at the back-five. The other big chance for PSV was a header from Marcelo at the back-post which was really the only piece of poor defending from the Scottish champions all night.
And even going forward, Rangers probably offered more than Arsenal did against Barcelona or Spurs did against AC Milan in the San Siro. Kyle Bartley had a great chance from a corner-kick but his header was well-saved by Isaksson. Rangers got into some decent areas through Edu, Whittaker and Foster and Smith will hopefully take confidence from PSV’s unconvincing defence.
It certainly puts the tie right in the balance for the second leg at Ibrox next Thursday when PSV travel to Glasgow but it leaves Walter Smith a major dilemma in whether he sticks with the “Waltenaccio” 5-4-1 formation or opt for a 4-4-1-1, or even 4-4-2.
It’s fairly simple: Rangers have to win the game. (or draw 0-0 and win on pens)
A proud night for Rangers and the awesome 2,000 travelling supporters in Holland, who are still dreaming of a trip to Dublin in May.
Written by Ross Dunbar