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Use Euro misery as motivation, Smith tells Rangers stars

SoccerNews in Scottish Premier League 10 Aug 2008

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Rangers manager Walter Smith wants his players to use the bitter memories of their humiliating European exit as motivation for the rest of the season.

Smith's side slumped out of the Champions League against Lithuanian minnows Kaunas last week, but they bounced back with a gritty 1-0 win at Falkirk in their Scottish Premier League opener on Saturday.

Andrius Velicka opened his account for his new club in the 64th minute with a tap-in from Kyle Laffety's cross.

Falkirk probably deserved at least a share of the points but Allan McGregor's save from a Michael Higdon penalty earlier in the second half proved to be the turning point.

With another embarrassment avoided, Smith believes Rangers can push on in their quest for domestic honours to make up for the European flop.

“It won't take away from the disappointment of what happened last week and I hope that will be with us for quite a while. But we definitely showed a determination and it was more like last season,” Smith said.

“The biggest problem we have is that we have built up a reputation over the last 18 months and it got ruined in two games.

“Their attitude and determination to play was something we have not had to question over the 18 months I've been the manager.

“Obviously the two games we played over the last couple of weeks changed everyone's opinion so it was good they got that back again and I'm sure we will go on from here.”

Smith will find out this week if Kevin Thomson will miss next week's visit from Hearts after the midfielder limped out of the action with a thigh strain.

Hearts manager Csaba Laszlo insisted it was team-spirit rather than his tactical changes that secured a 3-2 win against Motherwell.

Former Uganda coach Laszlo, taking charge of his first SPL match at Tynecaste, made a key change when he hauled off Laryea Kingston and sent on Saulius Mikoliunas with the match level at 2-2.

Mikoliunas responded by smashing a late winner into the roof of the net 90 seconds after David Clarkson's second equaliser looked to have earned Motherwell a point.

Michael Stewart and Audrius Ksanavicius had given Hearts the first-half lead following some slack defending.

“The most important thing was to see the team in a competitive game,” Laszlo said. “Two times we came back, it was important to see the team spirit.

“We have spoken a lot about team spirit and being together. I really appreciate the team, they understand what I want and they don't have a gap between the coach and the team.”

Hibernian manager Mixu Paatelainen warned his flops to shape up or ship out as Kilmarnock substitute Jamie Hamill condemned the Edinburgh side to a 1-0 defeat at Rugby Park.

Paatelainen was furious at the way Hibs switched off to allow Hamill space to bury his 80th minute winner.

“Our midfielders didn't want to defend and we got punished,” he said. “It was purely laziness and certain individuals know that.

“If you have lazy players like that out on the pitch then you are always open and liable to lose goals.

“Players who have a lazy streak won't play for my team. I pointed it out to the players and they must accept what I say.”

Craig Brewster saluted his Inverness players after the Highlanders finally ended their miserable run against Aberdeen with a 2-0 win at Pittodrie.

Inverness got their first win over the Dons in 18 attempts thanks to goals from Andy Barrowman and Roy McBain.

Brewster said: “It was going to have to happen one day and I'm glad it has finally come around.

“The preparation has been great for the past six weeks and I was quietly confident before the game that this could be the day.”

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