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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 27, 2007

Smith calls for final push against Lyon

Rangers manager Walter Smith has called for one last push from his players as they bid to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League. A 3-2 defeat in Stuttgart tonight - the Germans' first points in the tournament so far - means at least a draw is required against Lyon in the final group match at Ibrox on December 12. Rangers defeated the French champions away from home earlier in the competition and now need to secure at least a point to ensure they remain in Europe's top club competition beyond Christmas. The last time Rangers reached the last 16 was during Alex McLeish's reign and Smith urged his players to replicate some of their earlier performances from this campaign in order to cross the finish line. 'We had hoped for a different outcome tonight but we have a big match to look forward to at Ibrox now,' said the Gers boss. 'If we show the endeavour we have shown throughout this campaign, then I will be pleased.' Rangers took the lead through Charlie Adam before Cacau hauled Stuttgart back into the game. The Bundesliga champions then went ahead thanks to Pavel Pardo's strike which was cancelled out by Barry Ferguson. However, Smith's men were sent back to Glasgow empty-handed when Ciprian Marica snatched the winner late on. But Smith insisted: 'The point didn't matter to us - in the end a draw wouldn't have made a difference.' He added: 'We are obviously disappointed to lose the game. I felt we lost a bad goal just before half-time and Stuttgart started the second half strongly and got in front. 'Credit to our boys for getting the equaliser. We had to go for the win at the end and we lost another goal. It was disappointing to lose the game overall.' A bigger blow for Smith was the loss of two players through injury, with Lee McCulloch hobbling out of the match midway through the first half, before DaMarcus Beasley was carried off shortly after the restart. While McCulloch is expected to make a quick recovery, Smith revealed that Beasley is more of a cause for concern. He said: 'Beasley's injury looks like a serious one although we aren't certain exactly what it is yet. Lee McCulloch has a knock which isn't quite as bad.' Rangers are at least guaranteed a UEFA Cup spot but Stuttgart coach Armin Veh has backed the Scots to progress further in the Champions League. The German believes the atmosphere at Ibrox will make all the difference as they chase the point they need against Lyon. He said: 'It will be a very open game but Rangers have a really great crowd and that will be a big advantage for them. 'The fact that Rangers only need a draw is another huge thing in their favour.'

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