Rangers 2, Stuttgart 1: Darcheville hits the spot as Rangers turn the tables
Jean-Claude Darcheville's second-half penalty completed a stirring comeback at Ibrox last night to get Rangers' Champions League campaign off to the best of starts.
When these sides last met here – four years ago, in this competition, at this stage – the Germans took the lead only to see it slip as they went down 2-1. So it was again last night as Mario Gomez's opener was cancelled out by a super strike from Charlie Adam - set up by Alan Hutton - before Hutton then won the all-important spot kick for Darcheville to convert.
No Rangers fan could ask for more than this victory and, as importantly, the persistence with which it was achieved. "I'm delighted," said Walter Smith, the manager. "We don't have a lot of players with Champions League experience and maybe that showed when Stuttgart started better and went ahead. But we showed spirit to get back into it."
On his team's prospects in Group E now, he added: We'll have to play at an exceptionally high level to achieve anything at all.
Stuttgart pooh-poohed any notion of cautious one-up tactics at this level by starting with two strikers - Gomez, a half-Spanish Germany international, and Cacau, from Brazil - backed by a trio of willing midfielder in what was effectively a 4-1-5 on the break.
Gomez shot wide early on, and then across the face of goal, and in between Ricardo Osorio, Stuttgart's Mexican full-back, had a shot saved.
Rangers' opening chance took 10 minutes to arrive. Kevin Thomson pounced on an underweight back pass but Raphael Schafer ran out to clear. Darcheville dashed on to Adam's pass but Schafer saved that too, then Adam punted a free-kick across the goal mouth, and dipped a 30-yard volley over the bar. The first half ended as it began, with Stuttgart pressure, though Cacau's overhead kick was had less venom than style.
With Rangers down a man because Barry Ferguson was off the pitch having a head wound stitched, Gomez deservedly broke the deadlock, shinning in Sami Khedira's cross via Cacau's heeled flick-on.
With Ferguson back on, Rangers drew level. Hutton slalomed past four men and passed to Adam, waiting to the left of the *D*. Adam cut inside, took a glance, and thumped in. Hutton, running into the box, won the penalty after being felled by Fernando Meira, and Darcheville scored from the spot.