October 2nd 2007. Rangers travelled to the Stade Gerland after an excellent win at home to the German champions, Stuttgart, in the first round of fixtures. Rangers produced one of their finest ever European performances, as they ran out 3-0 winners at the Stade Gerland.
This was Rangers first win in the Champions League away from Ibrox since 2000. Lyon were the reigning French Champions, they had the likes of Benzema and Juninho in their ranks, and had also beaten Real Madrid 2-0 in the group stage in 2006.
McGregor, Hutton, Cuellar, Weir, Papac, Hemdani, Beasley (Adam 90), Ferguson, Thomson, McCulloch (Novo 80), Cousin (Whittaker 66).
Vercoutre, Reveillere (Clerc 81), Squillaci, Anderson, Grosso, Juninho, Bodmer (Ben Arfa 60), Kallstrom, Govou, Baros (Keita 60), Benzema.
Lyon started the game on the front foot, as expected. Walter Smith’s game plan was to sit deep and frustrate Lyon.
Rangers central midfield trio of Ferguson, Thompson and Hemdani clamped the midfield superbly that night, a wall of Blue shirts between Lyon and Allan McGregor. After riding the early storm, Alan Hutton broke down the right hand side and won Rangers a corner. Beasley whipped the ball in and McCulloch met it with a bullet header on the edge of the six-yard box, leading to pandemonium in the away end.
Lyon were being forced to take long distance efforts due to the Rangers “parking the bus”, Juninho a dead ball specialist, won a free kick around 25 yards out on the stroke of half time. He stood over the ball menacingly and his effort struck the crossbar.
Half time: Lyon 0-1 Rangers
The second half was only 90 seconds old when Juninho flashed a shot just wide, a warning shot. Rangers immediately responded, Beasley played it out wide to Hutton, who played the ball into Cousin, who turned and beat Vercoutre at his near post. Lyon 0-2 Rangers, 48 minutes played.
Lyon were stunned, Rangers smelt blood and went for the throat. Cousin turned provider as he played a 50 yard pass over to Beasley, who had all the time in the world to beat Vercoutre, and put Rangers 3-0 up after 53 minutes, sending the away fans into raptures.
Smith decided to shut up shop after that, the Gers offered very little going forward after the third goal.
Whittaker replaced Cousin just after the hour, and Rangers kept Lyon at arms length. However, the hosts did hit the woodwork twice more. Juninho’s well hit effort from the edge of the area on 70 minutes crashed against the upright; but in truth, McGregor was rarely troubled in the closing stages and Rangers comfortably saw out their biggest away win in the Champions League.
“I don’t think we could have imagined we would come to a club as strong as Lyon and win 3-0” said a jubilant Walter Smith after the game.
This away trip to France will live long in the memory of Rangers fans.