Rangers 1-0 PSG
By Declan Taylor
Madjid Bougherra’s second-half header was enough to get Rangers off to a winning start in the 2009 Emirates Cup.
It looked as though the tournament, where each goal secures a point, would open with a bore draw. However, 14 minutes from time, the former Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday defender squeezed a header in to the top corner to seal all three points.
Paris Saint-Germain did have their chances though. Turkish striker Mevlut Erding missed a string of gilt-edged opportunities before his withdrawal in the 73rd minute.
But, courtesy of Bougherra’s header, Walter Smith’s side are the tournament’s early pace-setters.
There was a clutch of familiar Premier League faces on show with the two most recognisable players stationed in holding midfield roles.
Of course ex-Chelsea stalwart Claude Makelele sat just in front of PSG’s back-four but curiously, Lee McCulloch – who spent six years in an attacking role for Wigan Athletic - adopted the same position for the Scottish champions.
Before the clash Arsène Wenger predicted that the Rangers fans would be ‘fired up’ for their trip to the English capital. And the Arsenal manager was certainly proven right in the early stages, with the blue section of the stadium careering through their extensive song book.
Their enthusiasm was matched by Ranger’s lone frontman Kenny Miller who looked anything but isolated throughout the first half.
In the fifth minute he shrugged off the towering figures of Mamadou Sakho and Younousse Sankhare but curled his effort well wide. Then, eight minutes later, the former Wolves and Derby striker almost caught out Gregory Coupet with a hanging cross that dropped just wide of the far post.
On the other hand, PSG were full of neat approach play but they lacked any real incision on the front foot. Their most likely goal threat in the first half, Erding, was getting in all the right positions but looked a little rusty in the finish.
He had already flashed a close-range header over when he squandered the half’s best chance just past the half-hour. Jean-Eudes Maurice fizzed an inviting right-wing cross into the six-yard box, but the onrushing striker somehow failed to connect.
Then five minutes before half-time, the Turkish striker latched onto Makelele’s exquisite lofted through-ball but his attempted lob dropped onto the roof of the net.
The interval did nothing to change Erding’s luck. Within eight minutes of the restart, another superb low cross, this time from Jerome Rothen, flashed past him six yards from goal.
The terrier-like Miller was replaced by a more orthodox target man in Kris Boyd on the hour mark. But, in the end, it was a defender who made the breakthrough.
In the 76th minute former-Charlton centre-half Bougherra climbed highest to thunder Mendes’ outswinging corner into the top corner - via Makelele’s head and the crossbar.
PSG tried to respond but, a couple of long-range half-volleys aside, they were unable to muster any further chances.
First blood to the Scottish champions.
Rangers (4-1-4-1): Alexander; Whittaker, Weir(c), Bougherra, Papac; McCulloch (Thomson 60); Novo (Beasley 60), Mendes, Davis (Naismith 70), Lafferty (Niguez 60); Miller (Boyd 60).
Subs not used: McGregor, Velicka, Smith, Little, Shinnie.
Paris Saint-Germain (4-4-2): Coupet; Jallet, Bourillon, Sakho (booked 80), Sankhare; Arnaud, Makelele (c), Chantome, Rothen; Maurice, Erding (Boli 73).
Subs not used: Edel, Baning, Ngoyi.