GLASGOW - Rangers converted their stubbornness abroad into effectiveness at home as Steven Naismith's lone goal settled a 1-0 win over Bursaspor, their first Champions League success in three long years.
It puts them level on points atop Group C with Manchester United with an identical record of four points from two games after their English rivals' 1-0 win in Valencia on Wednesday.
The Turkish side, in their first Champions League campaign, are already cast in the role of whipping boys and Naismith's 18th minute strike looks to have largely confirmed the group as a three-horse race for qualification.
Certainly, Rangers boss Walter Smith wasted little time celebrating the end of a competition victory drought and a newly won reputation for being tough nuts to crack away from Ibrox as their 0-0 draw in Manchester this month showed.
"You can't pick up a paper in the morning and see our Champions League record has suddenly changed because it hasn't. We've got a hard struggle ahead of us," he conceded.
"After the experiences that we've had in the Champions League, especially last year, to start with a draw at Old Trafford and win your first home game, you're delighted about the position you're in.
"But it doesn't change our thoughts on the group. We know we'll have to play exceptionally well to have any hope of qualifying out of this section."
"We know the difficulties we'll have in our next three games against the two favoured teams in our section and Manchester United and Valencia would be most people's favourites to qualify and remain in the Champions League."
The victory over the Turkish champions was Rangers' first win in the Champions League since the 2-0 win in Lyon in October 2007 - 13 matches ago - and their first at home since the 2-1 success against Stuttgart the previous month.
After failing to qualify against the Lithuanian side Kaunas in 2008, they lost all three matches at Ibrox last season, conceding 10 goals.
Their next game is at home against Valencia on Oct. 20, and another victory would not only pull them further clear of Bursaspor but could move them four points clear of the Spanish side.
Smith once again employed the 5-4-1 formation that United could not find a way past earlier this month but this time his players were given more licence to push forward.
It resulted in them exerting considerable early pressure, with Madjid Bougherra and Maurice Edu both threatening.
They took the lead with 18 minutes gone when Steven Whittaker's cross was headed on by Kirk Broadfoot and Naismith guided his shot inside the post.
Kenny Miller could have doubled the lead just after the restart but even though the hosts were forced deeper and deeper, Bursaspor were limited to hopeful long range efforts.
Sercan Yildirim was the closest to finding an equaliser with a volley that flew just wide of Allan McGregor's goal.
The Turkish suffered a 4-0 defeat at home to Valencia in their first ever Champions League match and with no points from their opening two games, their hopes of progression are undeniably bleak already.
Coach Ertugrul Saglam, howver, feels his side are showing signs that they can be quick learners at this level.
"Our second-half performance is an indication of how we're able to perform in this competition.
"We're a very inexperienced team and it's our first time in Europe for about 30 years but we are starting to find the rhythm of the Champions League."comments