Livingston knew that the trip to Ibrox was going to be difficult, but after the match, the Lions knew that they should have left the dark city with at least a point. David Hay had a full squad to choose from, and Rangers welcomed Ronald de Boer back to the squad after the Dutchman’s lengthy lay off with a knee injury.
Livingston started the match with the usual 3 at the back, Andrews, Dorado and Rubio, with McAllister and McNamee playing their usual wing-back roles. It was the Livi defence that was to be under pressure first. The Gers won a corner in the second minute and the in swinger found Peter Lovenkrands, who picked Nuno Capucho out, but the Portuguese dud could only strike the ball towards Livi goalkeeper Roddy McKenzie who saved the ball with his face. A let off for Livi, but Rangers should have taken the lead.
Just when it looked as if Rangers were beginning to take the match by the scruff of the neck, Livingston had an opportunity to take the lead. David Fernandez picked the ball up inside the Rangers half, and he found Derek Lilley with a perfect cross, but the former Dundee United man headed the ball just wide of Stefan Klos’ post. A decent chance for Livingston, but Lilley should have done better.
It was a frantic start to the match, and Rangers again nearly scored from a corner. Roddy McKenzie misjudged the flight of the ball, Craig Moore headed the ball goal wards, but David McNamee was on hand to clear the ball off the line and to safety. Another let off, but you could sense a goal was coming for the Ibrox men.
Rangers did take the lead on the 13th minute. Fernando Ricksen got the ball 25 yards out from goal, the Dutchman struck a shot that Livi keeper Roddy McKenzie couldn’t have seen till the last minute, as all McKenzie could do is get his leg to the ball, but it was Nerlinger who was quickest to react, and the German stroked the ball into the empty net. Nerlinger did look off side when the ball was first struck, but the ASSistant and the referee gave the goal.
The home fans settled back for a goal blitz, but it was the visitors who came more and more into the game. Twice before the interval, Stuart Lovell had Stefan Klos anxiously scrambling along his line.
Rangers had lost their way with Peter Lovenkrands completely miss-hitting a cross and summing up their misery.
Rangers were lucky to go in at half time leading, and the Lions were putting more and more pressure on the Gers.
Half time – Rangers 1 (Nerlinger 13) Livingston 0
Livingston should have levelled the match 6 minutes after the break. David Fernandez beat the Rangers off side trap, but with only Stefan Klos to beat in the goal, the on loan star screwed his shot just wide of the post. A glorious chance for Fernandez, but he knows that he should have done better.
But Livi continued to press and Fernandez forced Klos into a fine tip-over having run at the heart of the Rangers defence and let fly from 25 yards. A great effort from Fernandez, and you can see his confidence is slowly returning.
Fernando Pasquinelli should have levelled the match with his first touch after he replaced Livi captain Stuart Lovell, but Klos easily gathered the substitutes header.
The more the match went on, the more the Rangers players got nervous, and Livingston should have punished them in stoppage time. Marvin Andrews had TWO golden opportunities to snatch a dramatic equalizer with only seconds remaining, but the Trinidad and Tobago man saw both headers flash past Stefan Klos’ post.
Livi were unlucky, but they’ll need to practise more on the finishing that so badly let them down on Saturday.
Full time – Rangers 1 (Nerlinger 13) Livingston 0