Pressure so great on Gers - Smith

05 November 2009 07:04
The Scottish champions thought they had secured a crucial victory in Bucharest that would have resurrected their campaign when Lee McCulloch netted with only 11 minutes to go.

But Rangers were denied their first win of the tournament when substitute Marius Onofras levelled for the Romanians two minutes from time.

Rangers remain bottom of Group G and now face massive games against Stuttgart at Ibrox and a trip to Sevilla with their hopes of progressing to the knockout stages now hanging by a thread.

Smith - who refused to comment on crowd trouble involving Rangers fans at half-time - said: "The pressure is on us to win our games, that's what we have to do.

"I don't think there is any other way forward for us. That's what makes it so disappointing to lose a late goal.

"At least we acquitted ourselves in a better manner than the first game, which was as poor a performance as we have had in Europe since I came back.

"We made up for that a little bit tonight."

A 4-1 defeat by Unirea at Ibrox a fortnight ago put a massive dent in Rangers' hopes ahead of this game and Smith was at least pleased to see a marked improvement from his players.

He said: "I don't think we had weak points tonight. Our weakest point was our overall performance in the last game, we didn't play well at all. But I think tonight we showed we can play better than we did do in Scotland."

But he admits Rangers have ultimately made life difficult for themselves by failing to see the game out.

He said: "We played very well tonight and after getting in the lead in the manner we did do and then to give it up so late in the game was very disappointing.

"It meant effectively, after getting ourselves back into the section in terms of qualification, we have made it even more difficult for us by giving away a bad goal in the last few minutes.

"When you are winning so late in the game you should make it more awkward for the opposition to score a goal and we didn't do that.

"We had various options at that time in the game and to run down the time was the thing to do. We didn't do that and it cost us dearly.

"It was a good game, both teams played well in spells and had opportunities to score. But getting in front means it's more disappointing for us to give a goal away in the last seconds."

One major positive as far as Smith was concerned was the performance of 17-year-old Danny Wilson, who made his Champions League debut tonight and produced an excellent performance in the heart of defence alongside David Weir.

He said: "I'm pleased with the way he has handled the situation since coming into the team, it's his third game and for a boy of 17 it speaks volumes for him that he has managed to handle it so well.

"Unirea have shown they are a very difficult team to play against and I must say that he handled himself well."

Despite snatching a late point, Unirea boss Dan Petrescu was unhappy at not taking all three points from a match he claims his side deserved to win.

He said: "It was a good game and it was a better game than the first one in Glasgow. In that game we had four chances and scored four goals.

"Tonight we created chances and their keeper made a lot of saves. I don't think the result was correct, we were the better team.

"Rangers did better than they did in the first game, they created chances and played some good football. But Unirea were the better team."

Asked about Rangers' hopes of qualifying now, he added: "They need at least four points but I think six would be better for them."

Champions League 2009/10 Win Outright: Rangers 750/1  

Source: Team_Talk