Beasley and Rangers return to Champions League

DaMarcus Beasley is returning to the Champions League.

With the American winger a second-half substitute, Scottish club Rangers clinched a spot in the group stage thanks to a 0-0 tie at Serbian powerhouse Red Star in Belgrade on Tuesday night. The draw gave Rangers a 1-0 victory on aggregate in the third qualifying round.

Beasley played two seasons in the Champions League with Dutch club PSV. In 2004-05, he was PSV's leading scorer with four goals in 11 games as it advanced to the semifinals. Beasley is the only American to have played in the semifinal stage of the competition.

Red Star fans whistled at Beasley but did not hurl any racial insults at him. He claimed that he had been the subject of racial insults by Red Star fans when he played in Belgrade with PSV in a Champions League qualifier in 2004. He was taunted by racist Montenegrin fans earlier this month when he scored in PSV's 1-0 win over FK Zeta.

Qualification means an estimated $20 million in revenues and bonuses for Rangers, which has struggled financially and been unable to keep up with archrival Celtic in recent years.

Walter Smith quit as Scotland national team coach to turn around Rangers. He employed a defensive 4-5-1 formation to stymie Red Star. Allan McGregor was outstanding in goal for Rangers, which will learn its group stage opponents at the UEFA Champions League draw scheduled for Friday. Lee McCulloch started on the left side in place of Beasley to give Rangers a more physical presence in Belgrade.

"It's certainly a satisfying result because you don't know if the team can stand up to a situation like that," said Smith. "It was a great atmosphere but we weren't intimidated and we used it to our advantage. It's always good to see the players respond well under pressure. It's good to be in the Champions league because there are so many teams vying in the qualifiers for only a few places in the group stage."

GAME SUMMARY:
Aug. 28 in Belgrade

Red Star (Serbia) 0 Rangers (Scot.) 0.
Red Star -- Randjelovic, Andjelkovic, Milijas (Raskovic, 74), Koroman, Burzanovic (Barcos, 71), Tutoric, Lucas, Gueye, Basta, Dordevic, Castillo.
Rangers -- McGregor, Hutton, Weir, Papac, Whittaker (Beasley, 79), Hemdani, Thomson, Cuellar, McCulloch, Ferguson, Darcheville (Cousin, 70).
Referee: Cardoso Cortez Batista (Portugal).
Att.: 50,000.

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