Naismith sparks Rangers joy
© AFP

A Steven Naismith strike sent Rangers joint top of Group C as they defeated Bursapor 1-0 at Ibrox in their UEFA Champions League clash on Wednesday.

The Scotland striker showed predatory instincts in the 18th minute when he pounced in the box to lift a Kirk Broadfoot pass over keeper Dimitar Ivankov to score the only goal of the match where the Old Firm side were rarely troubled. The win ended a three year wait for a Champions League win for the Scottish champions, who had lost all three home fixtures in last season's campaign. The result coupled with Manchester United's 1-0 away win at Valencia put Walter Smith's men level at the top of Group C on four points after two games with back to back games against the La Liga leaders to come for Rangers.

At Ibrox, Smith kept faith with the same personnel and formation that earned his side a valuable away point at Old Trafford in a goalless draw with Manchester United a fortnight previously. The Scottish side showed their attacking intentions from the off and American midfielder Maurice Edu saw his powerful strike from 20 yards tipped over after five minutes.

Steven Davis then found Madjid Bougherra in the box with a free-kick but the Algerian's volley was deflected out for a corner as Rangers continued to press. Their pressure paid off in the 18th minute when the Glasgow giants took the lead through Naismith. A cross field ball from Steven Whittaker was knocked into the box by Broadfoot and the Scotland striker used his pace to nip in front of Ivankov and knock it over the Bulgarian keeper. Three minutes later a Davis cross was met at the back post by Lee McCulloch but the midfielder sent his header into the side netting.

Allan McGregor had cut a lonely figure in the Rangers goal but had to be alert to tip a fiercely struck Gokcek Vederson free-kick from 25 yards over the bar on the half-hour mark.

Davis showed no sign of the hamstring problem that nearly ruled him out of the game when he broke clear and sent a lofted pass across the box to Naismith but the Scotland star sent his first-time volley wide. Federico Insua then replaced Ivan Ergic and he immediately was on the end of a chance when he met Ozan Ipek's cross but his header went straight to McGregor.

Kenny Miller was presented with a chance within a minute of the break after Edu played him in but the Scotland striker could only prod the ball off the legs of the outrushing keeper.

Rangers were pushing forward in search of a second goal and Edu was next to come close as he poked the ball inches wide of the post. The home side's stoic defence was holding firm as Bursaspor struggled to make any impact with Insua's long-range effort which flew wide the best the Turkish champions could muster.

With 20 minutes to go Ertugrul Saglam threw on Turgay Bahadir and Argentine Leonel Nunez as his side looked for a way back into the game and Milan Stepanov should have done better when he sliced his shot wide with six minutes to go. However Rangers' resolute defending kept the Champions League rookies at bay as they clinched all three points.