Ferguson delight despite semi-final ban
Rangers skipper Barry Ferguson was thrilled to reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup last night - even though his performance will earn him a slap from boss Walter Smith. A needless booking for throwing the ball away during the clash with Sporting Lisbon means Rangers will have to face the first leg against Fiorentina without Ferguson, with a yellow card also ruling out fellow midfielder Kevin Thomson. Ferguson is gutted at the prospect of missing the match but insists nothing will temper his joy at taking another step closer to the final. 'I'm just happy to get through,' he said. 'It's my first semi-final in a European competition and it gets better as I get older even though I do miss the first leg. 'I'm disappointed. I've tried to give the ball back and it's not got to him and the ref has had no option. 'Now me and Thommo will have to take it on the chin. The gaffer jumped out five yards so I knew I was in trouble. 'Likely he will give me a slap when I see him but it won't be the first time!' Ferguson sees no reason why Rangers cannot come through the first leg against the Italians with the right result despite his absence. He added: 'I'm confident the lads can do the job in the first game. We're confident of our chances in any game we go into.' Jean-Claude Darcheville's opener and a stunning solo effort from Steven Whittaker secured Rangers' place in the last four of the UEFA Cup, after the first meeting between the two clubs ended in a goalless stalemate at Ibrox last week. Ferguson said: 'The gaffer asked us to keep possession and we managed to do that from the start. 'They were counter-attack goals and great finishes from Darchey and Whitty.' He added: 'I'll take the games as they come, I don't like to look too far ahead. 'It's my first time in a semi-final and you never know what might happen. We've got a confident squad and we've got a great attitude. 'It's a happy place and it shows you what a difference a year and a half makes.'