Nine-man Rangers crashed out to Swedish side Malmo 2-1 on aggregate after an ill-tempered game in Sweden. The SPL champions saw Steven Whittaker sent off early on, but managed to take the lead and level the tie overall with a superb volley from Nikica Jelavic, connecting sweetly from a Maurice Edu pass.
Madjid Bougherra was given his marching orders on 66 minutes for an elbow on Dardan Rexhepi, before Malmo lost Ricardinho for a second bookable offence after a clash with Jelavic.
However the Swedish side went through courtesy of Jiloan Hamad’s 80th minute equaliser, which gave the Swedes an aggregate 2-1 win.
Before the game kicked off Rangers heard that they had won their appeal to have Dorin Goian play against Malmo, however the Romanian defender was then ruled out of the game through injury.
Rangers were going into their 23 European game, with only one win to their name – that being last season’s Ibrox victory against Bursaspor.
Ally McCoist’s side started the game well – a total role reversal from last weeks 1-0 defeat at Ibrox – and within five minutes they were close to opening the scoring when Ortiz laid the ball off into the path of Nikica Jelavic, but the Croat was beaten to the ball by Malmo’s veteran defender Daniel Andersson.
The match was only 18 minutes old when the game turned nasty, when Steven Whittaker was shown a red card for a moment of madness. The full back raged at the decision of the Russian referee to award a free kick to the Swedish side, and threw the ball at Fugueiredo, an action deemed to be violent conduct and Rangers were reduced to ten men.
However rather than collapsing in on themselves, Rangers pressed for that all important away goal, just seven minutes later it was delivered. Maurice Edu flighted a long ball over the Malmo defence and it was met by Jelavic to strike the ball on the volley into the back of the Malmo goal from ten yards out to give Rangers a deserved lead.
Malmo could have equalised soon after, but once again Allan McGregor did well to deny Jimmy Durmaz with a fine save. Daniel Larsson, who scored at Ibrox in the first leg, also had a great chance to score for Malmo, but his shot was poor and easily mopped up by the Rangers defenders.
Into the Second Half and referee Bezborodov was once again reaching for the red card on 66 minutes when Madjid Bougherra was given his marching orders for an elbow smash into the face of Malmo sub Dardan Rexhepi, who was stretchered off soon after in a neck brace.
The cards continued to flow as Malmo were reduced to ten men when Brazilian Ricardinho was sent off for a second bookable offence on 72 minutes for a foul on Nikica Jelavic. Although in the aftermath Steven Naismith was lucky not to receive his second yellow card for booting the ball at Ricardinho.
With the game looking as if it would go to extra time, the Swedish side pressed forward and with ten minutes remaining they grabbed an equaliser, through Hamad whose curled effort beat McGregor and secured Malmo’s qualification to the next round of the Champions League. While Rangers had to resign themselves with a place in the Europa League and a result that would cost the Ibrox side around £15 million of revenue from Europe’s premier club competition.
Rangers: McGregor; Whittaker, Bougherra, Papac, Wallace; McCulloch, Edu; Naismith, Davis, Ortiz; Jelavic.
Subs: Alexander, Broadfoot, Fleck, Healy, Wylde, Bendiksen, Hemmings.
Malmo: Melichárek; Hamad, Andersson, Jansson, Ricardinho; Mehmeti, Mutavadžić, Pekalski, Durmaz; Larsson, Figueiredo.
Subs: Garača, Aubynn, Fernandez, Nazari, Rexhepi, Stenström, Nilsson