Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Motherwell 0 Rangers 0

Pedro Mendes is confident Rangers' disappointing stalemate with Motherwell will have no impact on their Champions League clash with Stuttgart.

The Scottish champions would have been looking for a positive result from the Clydesdale Bank Premier League meeting to take into Wednesday's match in Germany.

Instead, they were fortunate to escape with a goalless draw at Fir Park after goalkeeper Allan McGregor produced a brilliant save to deny Jim O'Brien from the penalty spot late on.

The result wrecked Rangers' 100% record so far this season but they can take some consolation from seeing Celtic held by Dundee United later in the day.

Mendes insists they must now put SPL action to one side for the time being and focus on producing a winning start to their European campaign.

He said: “It wasn't the best performance against Motherwell but, even so, we had enough chances to win the game.

“We are disappointed with the game but that's it finished.

“We go home now and think about what we did wrong and, on Monday, we start to focus on the Champions League.

“It will be a different environment and a different game. There is nothing to compare it with this game.”

A rather lacklustre encounter exploded with five minutes to go when substitute Lukas Jutkiewicz went to ground under pressure from Madjid Bougherra in the box and referee Dougie McDonald pointed to the penalty spot.

Bougherra's complaints earned him two yellow cards in quick succession, before McGregor came to the rescue with a fine stop from O'Brien.

However, Mendes claims the spot-kick should never have been awarded in the first place.

“I don't think it was a penalty,” said the Portuguese midfielder.

“I told the referee that but he said it was a penalty and it's his decision. That's the rules.

“I was quite close and it was an intense match. The forward player was clever enough to go to the ground and get the penalty.”

Bougherra went to the referee's room to apologise for his actions after the game and Mendes added: “What can I say about the red card?

“Madjid was disappointed about the decision and it's something he should learn from in the future.

“It's something to take into the future and not do again.”

O'Brien admits he should have found the back of the net but insists his missed opportunity will not prevent him from putting himself forward for any penalties in the future.

“I felt confident but it wasn't to be,” he said.

“The boys are saying it was a great save but I shouldn't miss from 12 yards.

“I'll put myself forward for another one — but I think the rest of the boys might have something to say about that.”

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