04.10.2018 23:34
UEFA Europa League, Team, Glasgow

Defeat in Ibrox: Late show from Rangers swings even contest

Rapid's second UEFA Europa League group match threw up another duel between the two most decorated sides in their respective countries. Having already beaten Russian heavyweights Spartak Moscow 2:0 on match day one, the Green & Whites travelled to Glasgow full of confidence under newly appointed Head Trainer and club legend Didi Kühbauer. Rangers' Ibrox stadium was exuding tradition before kick-off, with Rapid a fitting opponent on a fantastic European night. With the backing of 1500 travelling fans, the Hütteldorfers hadn't flown to Scotland to simply make up the numbers.

Ahead of the match, Kühbauer had said "it's not about me, it's about the team", and the new Rapid boss introduced one or two fresh ideas in his first line up: Andrei Ivan began the match on the right wing, with Andrija Pavlovic the lone striker supported by Thomas Murg in a deeper forward role. In the opening minutes of the match it quickly became clear that to claim points Rapid would have to show battling spirit and rise to the occasion in a boisterous atmosphere created by the impressive home support. The first goalmouth incident arrived via a mix up in the Rangers defence, when an attempted clearance from Tavenier almost embarrassed home keeper Alan McGregor but the ball rolled just wide of the goal (17.). Andrija Pavlovic should then have given Rapid the lead, but he didn't get enough on his glancing header from a teasing ball from Stefan Schwab (22.).

The unfortunate Mateo Barac was forced to depart after suffering an untimely cut. Up to that point, the Hütteldorfers had been solid in defence with few threatening moments created by the hosts. Rapid were down to ten men for a considerable time, as Christopher Dibon had to go through a warm up. It was a tough test for the returning centre back, who was making his first appearance after an injury lay-off lasting over a year. The disruption had handed Steven Gerrard's blues some initiative after the Scottish giants had initially struggled to make an attacking impact. But Rapid stood firm, and they broke the deadlock as the game edged towards half time: a swift break lead by Ivan down the right, saw the ball fed into Pavlovic, whose blocked shot squirmed to Veton Berisha, who coolly slid the ball into the net from close range to put Rapid into the lead -1:0 (42.)! But the wild celebrations from the traveling fans were cut short, as Rangers grabbed a crucial instant equaliser when a Tavernier cross was turned into the net by Morelos with a simple finish - 1:1 (44.).


In the opening stages of the second half, both teams displayed the total commitment and desire on show in the first period, but concrete chances were proving harder to come by. The Rapid bench responded to the attacking lull by sending on Alar for Ivan then a little while later Bolingoli for Berisha. Rangers thought they’d taken the lead on the hour mark, but Richard Strebinger pulled off a fantastic diving save to keep out a header from Ejaria. As the half wore on it was the Scots who got on top and began to look more likely. With the Hütteldorfers battling bravely to hold onto a point, Rangers were given a golden opportunity to claim the victory from the spot. The otherwise impeccable Mario Sonnleitner rashly slid into a challenge, upending his opponent in the box. Tavernier made no mistake with the resulting penalty, sending Strebinger the wrong way - 1:2 (84.). Rapid desperately threw bodies forward looking for a late reply, but with wide open spaces at the back Morelos made it safe for the home team, rounding off a simply counter attack to put the match beyond Rapid - 1:3 (90.).

It was a painful defeat – particularly the score line - after the Green & Whites had given absolutely everything and played their part in what had been an even match over large swathes of the evening. It was a shame, but the Rapid faithful would be making the trip home proud of the effort, fight and determination displayed by their side.



UEFA Europa League, 2nd round:
Rangers FC - SK Rapid 3:1 (1:1)
Glasgow, Ibrox Stadium, 47.500 Attendance, Ref Ruddy Buquet (FRA)

Goals: 0:1 Berisha (42.), 1:1 Morelos (44.), 2:1 Tavernier (84./Foulelfmeter), 3:1 Morelos (94.);

Rangers FC: McGregor – Tavernier, Worrall, Goldson, Flanagan – Arfield, Coulibaly, Ejaria – Kent (90./Halliday), Morelos (95/Middleton), Candeias;

SK Rapid: Strebinger – Müldür, Sonnleitner, Barac (33./Dibon), Potzmann – Ljubicic, Schwab – Ivan (58./Alar), Murg, Berisha (72./Bolingoli) – Pavlovic;

Yellow Cards: McGregor; Berisha, Ivan, Müldür, Schwab, Pavlovic