EUROPE: Perfect week for Maurice Edu, Rangers

February, 28, 2011
2/28/11
9:00
PM PT

Could the past week have gone any better for Rangers FC?


The Scottish champs bounced back from the previous weekend's debacle against Old Firm rival Celtic to claim a spot in the UEFA Europa League's last 16 -- in most dramatic fashion, and through our local hero, and doing a good deed for Scotland all the while -- then took command, in a way, in the Scottish Premier League when its hated nemesis was unexpectedly beaten.

Fontana's Maurice Edu was the hero in Lisbon, scoring in stoppage Thursday to give Rangers a 2-2 draw with Sporting. That made for 3-3 aggregate, and the away-goals tiebreaker favored the Blues, 2-1.

The victory provided Scotland a second automatic spot for the 2012-13 season in the Champions League, pushing the SPL above Switzerland's league to 15th in the UEFA table used to dole out European berths. That does one of two things: Ensures Rangers a Champions League berth even if it doesn't win the league title next season, or gives despised Celtic that berth.

Maybe that spurred Celtic's gift Sunday. As Rangers dispatched St. Johnstone, 4-0, the first-place Bhoys -- unbeaten in their last 17 -- were dismissed, 2-0, at fifth-place Motherwell, reducing the gap to their Old Firm nemesis from eight to five points. Because Rangers has two games in hand, it controls its fate. Of course, the final-stage showdown, probably in May, likely will decide the champion.

The Glasgow-based clubs meet twice before that, Wednesday in a Scottish Cup fifth-round replay and March 20 in the League Cup final.

ETC.: Former Galaxy forward Edson Buddle came off the bench to score the final goal in FC Ingolstadt's 4-1 rout at Karlsruhe, his second goal in six appearances since arriving in January. … Alta Loma's Carlos Bocanegra tested Nice goalkeeper David Ospina, Saint-Etienne's only shot on goal in a 2-0 defeat, its third in a row. Les Verts (9-8-8), once a prime player in the race, now sits nine points out of a European spot. The gap to the relegation zone is only slightly larger, at 10. … Michael Bradley watched Aston Villa's 4-1 romp over Blackburn from the bench, and Brad Friedel lost his shutout on a deflected shot with nine minutes to go. … Huntington Beach's Sacha Kljestan and Belgian champ RSC Anderlecht have a top-of-table clash Friday against Genk. Both are 18-3-6; Genk is No. 1 on goal difference.
  • AREA PLAYERS IN EUROPE

D CARLOS BOCANEGRA (Alta Loma/UCLA)
Club:
Saint-Etienne (France, Ligue 1)
Last week: 90 minutes as seventh-place Les Verts (9-8-8) were beaten, 2-0, Saturday vs. Nice
Season: 21 league games (21 starts) with 2 goals, 23 games (23 starts) with 2 goals in all competitions
Next: Saturday at 14th-place Caen (7-10-8)

M MICHAEL BRADLEY (Manhattan Beach)
Club:
Aston Villa (England, Premier League)
Last week: Did not play as the 12th-place Villans (8-11-9) won, 4-1, Saturday vs. Blackburn
Season: 1 league game (0 starts) for Aston Villa; 22 games (20 starts) with 4 goals in all competitions for Borussia Moenchengladbach (Germany)
Next: Wednesday at Manchester City in F.A. Cup fifth round, Saturday at seventh-place Bolton (9-9-10)

D JAY DENNY (Santa Monica)
Club:
Hednesford Town (England, Southern League Premier Division)
Last week: 90 minutes as the sixth-place Pitmen (16-8-4) won, 2-1, Wednesday at Stourbridge and 4-0 Saturday at Bashley
Season: 27 league games (25 starts) with 1 goal, 9 cup games (8 starts) with 1 goal, 36 games (34 starts) with 2 goals in all competitions
Next: Tuesday at Chippenham Town in the Southern League Cup semifinals

M MAURICE EDU (Fontana)
Club:
Rangers FC (Scotland, Premier Division)
Last week: 90 minutes in Thursday's 2-2 draw at Sporting Lisbon, scoring the equalizing goal in stoppage to send Rangers to the UEFA Europa League round of 16 (vs. PSV Eindhoven) on away goals (2-1) after 3-3 aggregate; 90 minutes as the second-place Blues (19-4-2) beat St. Johnstone, 4-0, on Sunday
Season: 20 league games (14 starts) with 2 goals, 6 UEFA games (6 starts) with 1 goal, 30 games (23 starts) with 5 goals in all competitions
Next: Wednesday at Celtic in a Scottish Cup fifth-round replay, Saturday at 11th-place St. Mirren (5-15-7)

M BENNY FEILHABER (Irvine/UCLA)
Club:
AGF Aarhus (Denmark, 1.Division)
Last week: League is on winter break
Season: 14 league games (14 starts) with 4 goals, 17 games (16 starts) overall with 7 goals
Next: March 20 vs. Hobro (5-7-3)

G BRAD FRIEDEL (Bay Village, Ohio/UCLA)
Club:
Aston Villa (England, Premier Division)
Last week: 90 minutes, making 1 save, as the 12th-place Villans (8-11-9) won, 4-1, Saturday vs. Blackburn
Season: 28 league games (28 starts), 47 goals allowed, 86 saves, 5 shutouts; 32 games (32 starts), 54 goals allowed, 99 saves, 5 shutouts in all competitions
Next: Wednesday at Manchester City in F.A. Cup fifth round, Saturday at seventh-place Bolton (9-9-10)

M SACHA KLJESTAN (Huntington Beach)
Club:
RSC Anderlecht (Belgium, Jupiler League)
Last week: Did not play in Thursday's 2-0 loss at Ajax Amsterdam, which eliminated RSCA from the UEFA Europa League round-of-32 on 5-0 aggregate; Saturday's game at Eupen was postponed until March 12
Season: 16 league games (11 starts) with 2 goals, 6 UEFA games (6 starts) with 1 goal, 24 games (19 starts) with 3 goals in all competitions
Next: Friday vs. first-place Genk (18-3-6)

D DALLAS MOORE (Santa Monica)
Club:
St. Neots Town FC (England, UCL Premier Division)
Last week: Tuesday's game vs. Newport Pagnell Town was postponed because of a waterlogged field; did not play in Saturday's 3-0 Hunts Senior Cup semifinal victory over Eaton Socon
Season: 5 league games (5 starts) with 1 goal, 1 cup game (1 start), 6 games (6 starts) with 1 goal in all competitions for St. Neots Town; 13 games (13 starts) for Halesowen Town (England) with 1 goal
Next: Wednesday at 10th-place Blackstones FC (12-9-9), Saturday vs. Boston Town (15-9-3)

F YURA MOVSISYAN (Pasadena/Pasadena City College)
Club:
FC Krasnodar (Russia, Russian Premier League)
Last week: League is in preseason
Season: 25 games (20 starts) with 14 goals for Randers in all competitions
Next: Season opener March 12 at Anzhi Makhachkala

F MATT TAYLOR (Irvine/UCLA)
Club:
Rot Weiss Ahlen (Germany, 3. Bundesliga)
Last week: 90 minutes as 16th-place Rot Weiss lost, 3-0, Saturday to league leader Eintracht Braunschweig
Season: 17 league games (17 starts) with 10 goals, 18 games (18 starts) with 10 goals in all competitions
Next: Saturday at 10th-place Carl Zeiss Jena (9-10-6)

BOBBY WOOD (Irvine)
Club:
TSV 1860 Munich (Germany, 2. Bundesliga)
Past week: 72nd-minute substitute as 1860 (9-7-8) climbed to ninth with a 1-0 victory Friday at Union Berlin
Season: 4 league games (0 starts), 22 games (14 starts) with 7 goals in all competitions
Next: Friday vs. 15th-place RW Oberhausen (6-13-5)

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