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Keller and Rayo lose in the snow; Reyna and Rangers record a win.

(Tuesday, November 23, 1999) -- Apparently Rayo Vallecano does not play well in the snow. Rayo, with American Kasey Keller in goal, was knocked from first to second place in Spain's Primera Division, after losing 3-1 on the road to Numancia on Saturday.

It was a hard-fought match, which saw no first half scoring. Keller made two good saves in the first 45, including tipping a hard header from midfielder Jose Pacheta onto the crossbar in only the second minute. He also stopped a good chance from Barbu to keep the match scoreless at the half.

It was a brutally cold night and a rare snow fall began early in the match. The home side came out very strong in the second half, but it was Rayo who went ahead courtesy of some lax marking by Numancia allowing Manolo Canabal to score six minutes into the second half.

But the lead did not hold for long with the home side equalizing seven minutes later on a strong header by Ruben Navarro that beat Keller cleanly. There was little he could do 10 minutes from the end when Barbu and Jose Luis Morales came in on him alone with Morales scoring the go ahead goal. Then in injury time, Castano made it 3-1 with a blast on which Keller had no chance.

Things went much better for United States midfielder Claudio Reyna and his Glasgow Rangers squad which easily moved by Hibernian 2-0 at home. Rangers have only one draw all season to mar an otherwise perfect Scottish Premier League season. They remain four points ahead of arch-rival Celtic with a game in hand.

Reyna, back from a strong appearance with the U.S. national team in Morocco, played a full 90 minutes for Rangers. As in previous matches, he played a key midfield role, acting as primary link between Ranger defenders and their speedy forwards.

Now Rangers must get ready for a big test, a Thursday night UEFA Cup home match with Borussia Dortmund. Rangers could use a big win to ease the pain of their near miss elimination from the Champions League.

It was a interesting week for U.S. midfielder John O'Brien at Ajax in Amsterdam. His club would not release him to play for the U.S. last Wednesday against Morocco because of a recent knee injury that kept him sidelined for three Ajax matches. But then Ajax surprised U.S. officials by starting O'Brien the same night in an exhibition against Stuttgart.

The match featured many younger players from both clubs. O'Brien went out in the 64th minute with what was said to be a re-aggravation of the toe injury that kept him on the bench much of the past year. But the injury must have been slight because O'Brien played the entire 90 minutes in Ajax's 2-0 victory over FC Utrecht on Sunday. The victory kept Ajax atop the Dutch first division.

U.S. midfielder Tony Sanneh remains sidelined in Germany as his Hertha Berlin squad warmed up for their Champions League second-round showdown with Barcelona by losing at home for the first time this season. Hertha did not look very good in losing to Kaiserslautern 1-0 and left the Berlin side in 13th place in the Bundesliga. The fans are starting to get restless, but a win against Barca will go a long way to sooth angry supporters.

At Bayer Leverkusen, American midfielder Frankie Hedjuk did not play as Bayer drew with Hansa Rostock 1-1.

In Metz, in an unusual Friday night match, U.S. defender David Regis did not play as Metz tied Montpellier 2-2. Regis had played for the U.S. in Morocco just 48 hours earlier.

SoccerTimes correspondent Robert Wagman contributed to this report.

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