RANGERS held the multi-million pound stars of Marseille to a deserved draw at Ibrox Stadium this afternoon in a pre-season friendly.
After falling behind to a Valere Germain opener, a quite outstanding Niko Kranjcar free-kick brought Pedro Caixinha’s men level 15 minutes from time.
And, as well as the result, there was plenty to be positive about with the Light Blues more than matching Olympique all over the park.
The game may have been billed as a friendly, but there was no element of that as Graham Dorrans found his name being taken by referee Craig Thomson and a yellow card administered for a foul on Dimitri Payet after just five minutes.
It set the tone for a very keenly contested match, and after former Manchester United and Juventus star Patrice Evra threw himself in to block a Daniel Candeias run in to the box, he injured himself and had to be replaced after just 15 minutes by Tomas Hubocan.
All the time, Caixinha’s men were growing in confidence, and while chances were limited, the signs of what the Gers were trying to do were certainly there.
Then, on 27 minutes, they forced their first real opportunity of the game. Graham Dorrans’ free-kick from five yards shy of the by-line out on the right was met in the middle by Fabio Cardoso, but his headed effort on goal was gathered by Steve Mandanda in the visitors’ goals.
After a flowing move from the Gers, Kenny Miller and Eduardo Herrera combined for the first time, with Miller’s ball in evading his Mexican partner by only inches. Then Candeias was put through on the counter attack by some excellent vision from Wes Foderingham, but his attempted ball through for the unmarked Herrera was blocked meaning Gers had to settle for a corner.
No changes were made by either side at half time, and it was Rangers again who began the stronger, with Niko Kranjcar getting a shot on goal after receiving a good ball 25 yards from goal from James Tavernier via a neat Candeias dummy.
Herrera’s last action before being replaced by Alfredo Morelos was to fire wide from a quickly taken Dorrans free-kick, although the offside flag was up in any case.
New arrival Morelos then had Gers’ best chances of the game with his first and second chances. Taking a shot on from 20-yards, goalkeeper Mandanda parried it straight back to Morelos before redeeming himself, denying the Colombian forward from point-blank range.
Then, with one of their few attacks of the game, Marseille took the lead.
With Gers caught thin at the back after an attack broke down, Morgan Sanson strode forward into space and found Valere Germain at the back post where he had the simple task of knocking the ball into the net.
It was a blow for Gers who had performed so well, but a reminder of the immense quality Marseille possessed within their ranks, although to be fair to Pedro Caixinha’s side, they dusted themselves down and continued to play well within the match.
And, with 15 minutes to go, they got a deserved equaliser through a superb Niko Kranjcar free-kick.
Fouled 25-yards from goal, the big Croatian dusted himself down and curled a beautiful strike into the top right top corner beyond the reach of Steve Mandanda.
Marseille wasted a decent late opportunity with Gregory Sertic wildly miskicking from inside the penalty box when unmarked, but that was as big a scare as Gers were given as they held out for a more-than deserved draw with the French giants.
RANGERS: Foderingham; Tavernier, Cardoso, Alves (Wilson, 57), Wallace; Candeias (Dalcio, 85), Jack, Dorrans (Holt, 85), Kranjcar (Pena, 76); Miller (Windass, 76), Herrera (Morelos, 57).
SUBS NOT USED: Alnwick, Hodson, Waghorn.
OLYMPIQUE MARSEILLE: Mandanda, Sakai, Rolando, Sanson (Njie, 80), Payet (Cabella 87), Dias, Evra (Hubocan, 14), Rami, Thauvin (Ocampos, 67), Lopez (Doria, 86), Germain (Sertic. 80)
SUBS NOT USED: Pele, Kamara, , Sarr.
ATTENDANCE: 22, 107.