Rangers v Young Boys: Ian Murray recalls 2005 decider with Inter

Rangers v Inter
Rangers drew 1-1 with Inter in 2005 to reach the Champions League last 16
Europa League: Rangers v Young Boys
Venue: Ibrox Date: Thursday, 12 December Time: 20:00 GMT
Coverage: Updates on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW & digital and online commentary on the BBC Sport website

The final whistle had gone but the initial, instinctive celebrations quickly turned to a murmur of uncertainty and nervousness.

Rangers had just drawn 1-1 with Inter Milan in their final Champions League group stage game in December 2005. But would it be enough to put them through? It depended on how Artmedia got on against Porto on in Bratislava in a match that was running a few minutes behind.

"We were all on the touchline waiting," recalls Ian Murray, who had just spent the last 90 minutes chasing Santiago Solari and Javier Zanetti down the left flank. "The whole crowd were waiting on the score."

Then the tannoy relayed the news. Artmedia had been held to a 0-0 draw. Rangers had just become the first Scottish side to reach the knock-out rounds of the Champions League.

"It was elation. Sometimes when you win games it's a relief. That wasn't. That was just ecstasy," Murray says. "Once we knew we had qualified that's when we could relax a little bit and realise what we had achieved. It was a great moment for us all."

'People didn't expect us to go through'

What made that cold night in Govan so special for Rangers was the manner in which the odds were stacked against Alex McLeish's side. They were without key players such as Dado Prso, Nacho Novo and Kris Boyd and had gone nine games without a win - the most recent an abject 2-2 draw at home with Falkirk.

"I don't think people expected us to go through," said Murray. "Because we were so poor on the Saturday all of us were thinking 'Are we going to be playing?'. We were going through a tough run and the fans weren't happy with us."

Yet there was some hope to grasp on to. While Rangers faltered in the league, they had lost only one of their first five group-stage games - a 1-0 defeat by Inter at the San Siro.

"We had to adapt our game in Europe," recalls Murray, now Airdrieonians manager. "Domestically we were dominant in terms of possession of the ball most weeks but in Europe it wasn't quite the same. So we had to show a different side of our game - kind of becoming a counter-attacking team.

"You can have a poor run of form but when it comes to a game against any European opponent and you have an opportunity to qualify in a full house in Ibrox then everything else kind of goes out the window. The fans are up for it and you're up for it."

'People will question if they have the bottle'

Rangers conceded in stoppage-time to lose to Young Boys in Switzerland
Rangers conceded in stoppage-time to lose to Young Boys in Switzerland

While Steven Gerrard's side are by no means in the same rut that Murray's team-mates found themselves 14 years ago, the need to get a result is just as important.

Getting knocked out of the Europa League just days after losing the Scottish League Cup final against Celtic could blow a hole in Rangers' season and any perceived progress under Gerrard.

Rangers need to avoid defeat when they welcome Young Boys on Thursday and, although the Swiss outfit beat the Ibrox side 2-1 in Bern, Murray thinks his old club have more than enough to qualify.

"There will be some nerves - there always is," says Murray. "They're not daft. If you lose to Celtic and then lose to Young Boys, people will start wondering whether they have the bottle.

"I think at Ibrox Rangers will fear nobody. On their day at Ibrox they're a different animal. So it will be a big one and one that I expect them to come through. I think they'll qualify."

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