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By ESPN Staff
Jul 22, 2006

Rangers beat Boro in Le Guen's first game

Paul Le Guen marked his first home game as Rangers manager with a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough in a lacklustre friendly at Ibrox.

The Frenchman was given a short but enthusiastic reception by the Light Blues' supporters before kick-off but those same fans will be wanting to see an improvement for the Bank of Scotland Premier League opener at Motherwell next Sunday

A Thomas Buffel goal seconds before the interval gave the home side the victory but on this evidence it was difficult to assess Rangers' chances of winning back the SPL title from Celtic this season.

With four new signings from last season - and Charlie Adam back from a loan spell with St Mirren - there was an obvious look of experimentation about the Gers who spent the first 45 minutes trying to find some sort of rhythm and not always successfully.

However, the early signs were encouraging for Le Guen. In the fourth minute midfielder Libor Sionko tested Boro keeper Ross Turnbull with a close-range header following a fine Steven Smith cross from the left, moments before Adam headed over a Jeremy Clement free-kick.

The energetic Sionko came near to opening the scoring again in the 10th minute when he poked a Buffel pass just past the post from the edge of the box.

In the 16th minute however, after Ibrox full-back Alan Hutton had fouled Adam Johnson 25 yards from goal, Fabio Rochemback's free-kick produced an impressive save at the top right-hand corner from Rangers keeper Lionel Letizi.

As the first half wore on the visitors looked comfortable enough but just on the stroke of half-time Gers' stand-in skipper Dado Prso took a Sionko pass down the right-hand side and when his cross came into the Middlesbrough box, Buffel took a touch to control the ball before slotting past Turnbull from 12 yards out.

The Light Blues' goal machine Kris Boyd replaced Prso at the break but it was Buffel who almost grabbed a second in the 50th minute with a neat turn and shot from the edge of the Boro penalty area, Turnbull diving smartly to his left to gather.

As the tempo dipped Sionko and then Boyd both drove over the bar from distance but the Teessiders came close to equalising in the 68th minute when James Morrison, ghosting in at the back post, headed a tremendous cross from Johnson onto the top of the crossbar.

Rangers substitute Nacho Novo, who had replaced Sionko on the hour mark, forced a fine save from Turnbull with a low drive from 20 yards.

However, the expected plethora of substitutions interrupted the flow of the match which petered out leaving Le Guen with plenty to think about before the trip to Fir Park next week.