It was always going to be extremely tough to overcome the Russian title holders on their own patch, but Novo’s strike definitely gives Big Eck’s men a real chance of progressing at Ibrox in a fortnight.

It was errors at the start of both halves, however, that cost Rangers goals and that is something the manager will be annoyed about.

After only four minutes Peter Lovenkrands was dispossessed and Ivica Olic, who picked up the loose ball, powered into the Rangers half.

Despite being tracked by two Light Blue players, a challenge wasn’t made and Vagner Love headed the Croatian’s cross, which deflected off Khizanishvili, home from close range.

It was the worst possible scenario for Big Eck’s men and had it not been for Stefan Klos, they would have been in even deeper trouble four minutes later.

Jiri Jarosik’s sent in a stunning strike from around 35-yards out and the German had to dive low to his right to push it round the post.

The visitors tried to hit back immediately but Dado Prso was unable to direct his header on target from Ricksen’s corner. 

This was the only bright spot for Gers in the opening spell and with quarter of an hour gone Vagner Love almost doubled his tally when Vignal slipped, but Klos stood up well to block the Brazilian’s shot with his chest.

With Alex McLeish barking instructions from the touchline Rangers gradually regained their composure and started to retain possession well.

Gregory Vignal’s high cross caused confusion in the CSKA box and Gor Akinfeev had to take out his own player to punch clear.

In the absence of Chris Burke, Peter Lovenkrands has been switched to wide right while Dado Prso is filling in on the left.

But although this may be an unfamiliar role for the former Monaco star, he is producing his best performance since moving to the Light Blues.

And it was due to his hard work that Gers bagged an equaliser in the 37th minute. Prso robbed Vasily Berezutskiy on the left flank and charged into the CSKA box before playing in an unmarked Nacho Novo.

Akinfeev blocked the Spaniard’s first shot, but when Prso joined in the battle for the ball it broke back to Novo and he fired hard into the net.

At this stage it was nothing less than Rangers deserved but they were made to pay for a real lack of concentration only 60 seconds into the second half.

No one picked up Jiri Jarosik when he collected Zhirkov’s throw in and although Mo Ross and Lovenkrands tried to track him, the towering midfielder skipped past both to fire past Klos from the left hand side of the eight yard box. 

As the Light Blues tried to step up a gear niggling arguments started to take place all over the pitch. 

Dado Prso was booked for a clash with his marker Odiah, while Fernando Ricksen was warned after a challenge on Olic.

On the hour mark Vagner Love broke free again but just screwed his shot wide of Klos’ right hand post.

At this stage Rangers looked nervy and the frustration was summed up perfectly by Peter Lovenkrands when he blasted a shot at goal from 25-yards, only for it to almost hit the corner flag. 

In the 68th minute Khizanishvili was judged to have fouled Vagner Love on the edge of the box and Klos reacted brilliantly to paw Gusev’s powerful shot wide of his post.

Steven Thompson was brought into the action with seven minutes remaining and despite the Light Blues piling on the pressure, a second equaliser just wouldn’t come.

CSKA MOSKOW: Akinfeev; Semberas, Berezutskiy A, Gusev (Aldonin 75), Odiah; Jarosik, Berezutskiy V (Semak 46), Zhirkov, Rahimic; Olic, Vagner Love (Dadu 70)

SUBS: Mandrykin, Kirichenko, Laizans, Shershun

BOOKINGS: Zhirkov 74,

RANGERS: Klos; Ross, Boumsong, Khizanishvili, Vignal; Novo, Ricksen, Rae, Lovenkrands (Thompson 83); Prso, Arveladze

SUBS: Smith, Vanoli, Andrews, Hutton, Hughes, Malcolm

BOOKINGS: Prso 53, Khizanishvili 68, Ricksen 71, Novo 76, Rae 91

REFEREE: Dan Wegereef (Holland) 


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