UEFA CUP FINAL – Rangers v. Zenit St. Petersburg

Well, it couldn’t last forever. In a game that probably won’t be as well remembered as Brazil 4, Italy nil, Rangers’ watenaccio couldn’t hold out against the pass-and-move of Zenit St. Petersburg. Bummer.

Rangers defense first, attack when no other options present themselves philosophy lasted for 75 minutes when Zenit, confounded by finding only four Rangers behind the ball as opposed to the more standard nine, cooly and calmly found the transfer-gossip-bound Arshavin who played an extremely clever ball in to Denisov who took his chance like he had been waiting all game for it. Which, of course, he had.

Afterwards, there was a half-chance to Nacho Novo, who predictably shot about 20 feet over the crossbar. Not even the gods of Trite Football Heroism, who blessed Frank Lampard a few weeks ago, were willing to allow the substitute that kind of glory.

The second Zenit goal was an extra-time formality. The game finished and the riots began.

Credit goes to Zenit for doing what so many others have failed to do. Take note Barcelona and Fiorentina: Hopefully your whining allows you to sleep that night.

The key for Zenit was, confusingly, their ability to draw Rangers out. By refusing to pressure Rangers as deeply as others had done, by almost daring them to come out of their own half, they tired them out and eventually found the gaps that others had been denied.

For Rangers, the trophy they wanted most has slipped them by, and they will have to get their heads right quickly if they want to hang onto the others. If they lose the league to Celtic, it will be a bitter summer ahead, especially with the supporter’s behavior in Manchester evaporating all the goodwill that success brings.

By the by, I would love to see JC Darcheville in a Fulham shirt next season. The man’s built like a tank, is quick, has decent feet, and never says die. Despite my soft spot for Rangers, I’m willing to hope that failure so embitters the entire team that Darcheville has to take refuge in the welcoming arms of Southwest London.


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