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Feb 24, 2011

Smith: Europe is no distraction

Rangers manager Walter Smith said the Europa League is not a distraction for his team after their away-goals triumph over Sporting Lisbon on Thursday.

Smith saw his side come back from the brink of elimination when Maurice Edu netted a late equaliser in Lisbon to level the match at 2-2, a score which sent the Scottish champions into the last-16.

"We will have to wait and see how the season unfolds before we see if there is any great impact," Smith said when asked how a busy schedule could effect his squad.

"You can't pick and choose. We would never consider it an inconvenience qualifying for a round in Europe. There's a pressure on Scottish clubs to do as well as they can (in Europe) so that our co-efficient level gets as high as possible."

Rangers took the lead at the Jose Alvalade Stadium through El Hadji Diouf's first goal for the club. But Sporting hit back through striker Yanick Djalo, before former Rangers midfielder Pedro Mendes put the home side 2-1 ahead.

Edu ensured the away team progressed with his late goal, and Smith was pleased to see his team advance into the last 16.

"We started the game slowly but we managed to get a goal. There wasn't much between the teams in the second half at all,'' he said. "With the circumstances of getting the goal, we are pleased to progress.

"We are disappointed with the way we lost the first goal as we should have handled it better with the height that we have got. Overall it is a system that has been reasonably successful in European games this season."

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