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Malmö score Champions League upset win

Rangers' hopes of making the Champions League group stages hang by a thread after Malmö claimed a deserved 1-0 win at Ibrox in the first leg of their third qualifying round match on Tuesday.

Malmö score Champions League upset win

The Swedes, who are half-way through their season, started the match far sharper than the Scottish champions and secured a vital away goal through a wonder strike from Daniel Larsson in the 16th minute.

Malmö continued to have the better chances with Brazilian Wilton Figueiredo causing several panics in the Rangers defence.

Steven Naismith twice missed gilt edged chances for Rangers after the break but Allan McGregor was by far the busier keeper as Malmö take a vital advantage into next week’s second leg tie in Sweden.

“One of the worrying things from our point of view is we didn’t start the game at all well,” Rangers manager Ally McCoist said of his first European match in charge at Ibrox.

“But I do believe we created enough in the second-half to indicate that the tie is far from over. I really believe we can go over there and score so there’s all to play for.”

Rikard Norling felt his side had started the game well.

“We kept them back a bit by playing the ball well. That gave us a good start into the game,” the Malmö coach said.

“We played a very good side and it will be difficult for us at home as well. We will have to be at our best.”

At Ibrox, Rangers were given their first warning in the ninth minute when Figueiredo evaded two defenders in the box to sting the palms of McGregor with a ferocious strike with Jimmy Durmaz side footing the rebound wide.

Steven Whittaker crossed for Nikica Jelavic to head wide but disaster struck for the full-back at the other end when his mistake led to the opening goal in the16th minute.

The Rangers defender was robbed of possession at the edge of his box by Durmaz and Figueiredo backheeled the ball into the path of Larsson whose thunderous strike flew past McGregor for a crucial away goal.

Brazilian Figueiredo then pulled a shot wide before his deflected long-range free-kick went straight to McGregor as the home fans’ frustrations grew.

Captain David Weir had returned from suspension but only lasted until the half-hour mark when he hobbled off to be replaced by Ortiz. Rangers then finally tested Dusan Melicharek with the Czech keeper at full stretch to stop a curling free-kick from Steven Davis.

Rangers began to go forward with more purpose as the break approached with Madjid Bougherra hooking an effort wide and Jelavic could do little when a Davis cross deflected off him and out.

Malmö regrouped at the interval and caught the Rangers defence napping when Figueiredo raced down the right and sent in a cross that Larsson couldn’t connect properly with.

The Brazilian then tried to curl a free-kick from wide on the left into the top corner after Larsson had been felled by Sasa Papac but McGregor tipped it over.

Chances were few and far between for Rangers but Lee McCulloch tested Melicharek with a low drive from 25 yards that the keeper turned round the post.

The Rangers defence seemed to shudder every time Figueiredo broke forward and the playmaker used his skills to hold off the attentions of two Rangers defenders before releasing a shot that McGregor just managed to push over.

Naismith missed a golden chance in the 67th minute when Jelavic rolled the ball across goal from the right but the striker stretched to hit it with his right and poked it wide.

Just a minute later, in a carbon copy move, Jelavic again found Naismith at the far post but this time the Scotland international was off target with his left foot with the goal gaping.

Jelavic and Naismith then combined to set up Davis but he placed his shot from the edge of the box over the bar.

Substitute Dardan Rexhepi and Jilon Hamad then both came close as Malmö secured only their third away win of the season.

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SHOOTINGS

US criminologist lauds Malmö for anti-gang success

The US criminologist behind the anti-gang strategy designed to reduce the number of shootings and explosions in Malmö has credited the city and its police for the "utterly pragmatic, very professional, very focused" way they have put his ideas into practice.

US criminologist lauds Malmö for anti-gang success
Johan Nilsson/TT

In an online seminar with Malmö mayor Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, David Kennedy, a professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said implementing his Group Violence Intervention (GVI) strategy had gone extremely smoothly in the city.

“What really stands out about the Malmö experience is contrary to most of the places we work,” he said. “They made their own assessment of their situation on the ground, they looked at the intervention logic, they decided it made sense, and then, in a very rapid, focused and business-like fashion, they figured out how to do the work.”

He said that this contrasted with police and other authorities in most cities who attempt to implement the strategy, who tend to end up “dragging their feet”, “having huge amounts of political infighting”, and coming up with reasons why their city is too different from other cities where the strategy has been a success.

Malmö’s Sluta Skjut (Stop Shooting) pilot scheme was extended to a three-year programme this January, after its launch in 2018 coincided with a reduction in the number of shootings and explosions in the city.

“We think it’s a good medicine for Malmö for breaking the negative trend that we had,” Malmö police chief Stefan Sintéus said, pointing to the fall from 65 shootings in 2017 to 20 in 2020, and in explosions from 62 in 2017 to 17 in 2020.

A graph from Malmö police showing the reduction in the number of shootings from 2017 to 2020. Graph: Malmö Police
A graph from Malmö police showing the reduction in the number of explosions in the city between 2017 and 2020. Graph: Malmö Police

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In their second evaluation of the programme, published last month, Anna-Karin Ivert, Caroline Mellgren, and Karin Svanberg, three criminologists from Malmö University, reported that violent crime had declined significantly since the program came into force, and said that it was possible that the Sluta Skjut program was partly responsible, although it was difficult to judge exactly to what extent. 

The number of shootings had already started to decline before the scheme was launched, and in November 2019, Sweden’s national police launched Operation Rimfrost, a six-month crackdown on gang crime, which saw Malmö police reinforced by officers from across Sweden.

But Kennedy said he had “very little sympathy” for criminologists critical of the police’s decision to launch such a massive operation at the same time as Sluta Skjut, making it near impossible to evaluate the programme.

“Evaluation is there to improve public policy, public policy is not there to provide the basis for for sophisticated evaluation methodology,” he argued.

“When people with jobs to do, feel that they need to do things in the name of public safety, they should follow their professional, legal and moral judgement. Not doing something to save lives, because it’s going to create evaluation issues, I think, is simply privileging social science in a way that it doesn’t deserve.”

US criminologist David Kennedy partaking in the meeting. Photo: Richard Orange

Sluta Skjut has been based around so-called ‘call-ins’, in which known gang members on probation are asked to attend meetings, where law enforcement officials warn them that if shootings and explosions continue, they and the groups around them will be subject to intense focus from police.

At the same time, social workers and other actors in civil society offer help in leaving gang life.

Of the 250-300 young men who have been involved in the project, about 40 have been sent to prison, while 49 have joined Malmö’s ‘defector’ programme, which helps individuals leave gangs.

Kennedy warned not to focus too much on the number of those involved in the scheme who start to work with social services on leaving gang life.

“What we find in in practice is that most of the impact of this approach doesn’t come either because people go to prison or because they take services and leave gang life,” he said.

“Most of the impact comes from people simply putting their guns down and no longer being violent.”

“We think of the options as continuing to be extremely dangerous, or completely turning one’s life around. That’s not realistic in practice. Most of us don’t change that dramatically ever in our lives.”

He stressed the importance of informal social control in his method, reaching those who gang members love and respect, and encouraging them to put pressure on gang members to abstain from gun violence.

“We all care more about our mothers than we care about the police, and it turns out that if you can find the guy that this very high risk, very dangerous person respects – literally, you know, little old ladies will go up to him and get his attention and tell him to behave himself. And he will.”

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